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Pending Home Sales Tumble in May

Pending sales of previously owned U.S. homes plummeted by 4.7 percent in May, far more than expected and a sign of more trouble ahead for the beleaguered housing market, a real estate trade group report showed on Tuesday.

Economists polled ahead of the report had been expecting to see a 2.8 percent decrease in the National Association of Realtors index after a 7.1 percent surge in April, which previously had been reported as a 6.3 percent gain.

"The overall decline in contract signings suggests we are not out of the woods by any means," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the real estate trade group.

Compared to a year ago, pending sales, which are based on contracts signed in May and seen as a key barometer of future home sales activity, were down 14 percent.

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  • Diana Olick serves as CNBC's real estate correspondent as well as the editor of the Realty Check section on CNBC.com.