The latest monthly data from the National Association of Realtors shows existing-home sales up 5.0 percent in December, the third consecutive month of gains. Sales of previously owned homes rose 3.6 percent over the previous year and, for all of 2011, sales were up 1.7 percent. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist said the pattern of home sales in recent months demonstrates a market in recovery. According to Yun, record low mortgage interest rates, job growth, and low home prices are giving more consumers the confidence they need to enter the housing market. Total available housing inventory dropped 9.2 percent in December to a 6.2-month supply at the current sales pace. The national median existing-home price was $164,500. More here.