By Steve Goldstein
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — The National Association of Realtors on Friday said December sales rose 5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.61 million. November sales were revised down to 4.39 million from an initially reported 4.42 million. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected sales at a 4.7 million clip in December. For all of 2011, sales edged up 1.7% to 4.26 million – compared to the 2005 peak of 7.08 million. Median sales prices in December fell 2.5% from the same period of 2010 to $164,500, and for the year, median prices were $166,100, down 3.9% and back to 2002 levels. Inventories fell 9.2% to 2.38 million, which represents 6.2 months of supply. The months of supply of inventory were the lowest inventory since April 2006, though inventory levels are generally low in the winter.