(Refiles to remove extraneous word "percent" in second paragraph)
WASHINGTON, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Pending sales of previously owned U.S. homes fell unexpectedly in September, a report showed on Friday, and activity may remain volatile for months as troubles with foreclosures disrupt the market.
The National Association of Realtors said its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed in September, fell 1.8 percent to 80.9 from an upwardly revised 82.4 in August.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 3 percent rise.
The data reflects home sales contracts, not closings, and is seen as a leading indicator of housing market trends.
"Existing home sales have shown some improvement but the foreclosure moratorium is likely to cause some disruption and contribute to an uneven sales performance in the months ahead," NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement.
Several major U.S. mortgage lenders temporarily halted foreclosures in October as attorneys general in all 50 states investigated whether banks had submitted faulty paperwork to back evictions. (Reporting by Emily Kaiser; Editing by Andrea Ricci)