Pending home sales declined in September, although activity remained above what it was a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors. The Pending Home Sales Index, based on pending sales of existing homes with contracts in place, fell 4.6% to 84.5 in September from 88.6 in August but is 6.4% higher than September 2010 when it stood at 79.4. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the housing market is being excessively constrained.  "A combination of weak consumer confidence and continuing tight lending criteria held back homebuyers, even though the private sector added nearly 2 million net new jobs in the past 12 months,” he said. Further adding to the pain, October home prices fell 2.8% from a year earlier, the 13th straight month of such year-over-year monthly declines, according to Clear Capital. Home prices increased 0.6% from the previous three months, which flattened out from the 3.5% in gain the month before. The Midwest saw the biggest monthly decline in pending sales. The index dropped 6.2% to 71.5 in September but remains 12.3% higher than September 2010. The PHSI in the Northeast declined 4.7% to 60.6 but is 4% above a year ago, and  sales in the South fell 5.5% to 91.6 but are 5% above a year ago. The index declined the least in the West, which saw a 2.1% decline to 105.8 in September but is 5.6% higher than September 2010. An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined as well as the first of five consecutive record years for existing-home sales. It coincides with a level that is historically healthy. Write to Kerry Curry. Follow her on Twitter @communicatorKLC.