The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported Thursday that existing home sales rose sharply in December, when sales increased for the fifth time in the past six months. Existing home sales rose 12.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.28 million in December from an upwardly revised 4.70 million in November, but remain 2.9 percent below the 5.44 million pace in December 2009, says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “The pattern over the past six months is clearly showing a recovery,” he said. The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $168,800 in December, which is 1.0 percent below December 2009. Distressed homes rose to a 36 percent market share in December from 33 percent in November, and 32 percent in December 2009. Investors accounted for 20 percent of transactions in December, up from 19 percent in November and 15 percent in December, 2009.