While the pace of foreclosures eased in 2011, a recent spike in default filings could indicate an uptick is coming in 2012, according to RealtyTrac, an online marketplace of foreclosure filings.

The number of filings providing notice of default spiked 33% to 78,880 in August and have remained elevated since then.

Last year, the pace of monthly repossessions slowed, hitting a 44-month low in November at 56,124. But much of the slowdown also likely was caused by foreclosure processing delays rather than a revived housing market. Mortgage servicers began re-evaluating their foreclosure practices because of a controversy over "robo-signing" practices, which led to a slowdown in processing.

Those delays mean much of the foreclosure activity that normally would have taken place in 2011 is being deferred to 2012, according to RealtyTrac. For more background on robo-signing, see story.

Overall, banks repossessed 25% fewer properties in 2011 compared to 2010. The expected new wave of foreclosures is not expected to bring numbers back to 2010 levels.

A total of 3.6 million properties have been lost to foreclosure since the start of the recession in December 2007. The latest foreclosure forecast comes as analysts are predicting a rebound in housing prices in 2012 as home prices bottom out and affordability remains at its best level in decades.

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