The U.S. pending home sales index fell 5.5 percent in April compared to March, ending a three-month stretch of gains, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday.

The index - which measures the number of contracts signed for previously owned homes but not yet closed - fell in April to 95.5 points, down from 101.1 points in March. The NAR noted, however, that last month's reading was 14.4 percent higher than April 2011.

Experts say any level above 100 points indicates a healthy real-estate market.

The NAR's chief economist, Lawrence Yun, said the one-month decline does not alter his perception of a fundamental improvement in market conditions.

"Home contract activity has been above year-ago levels now for 12 consecutive months. The housing recovery momentum continues," Yun said in a statement.

On a regional basis, pending home sales edged 0.9 percent higher in the Northeast compared to the previous month, but they slipped 0.3 percent in the Midwest, fell 6.8 percent in the South and plunged 12 percent in the West. EFE