Foreclosure filings ticked up during the first half of 2012, rising 2% compared to the previous six months but remained 11% lower compared to the first half of 2011, according to RealtyTrac data released today.

Overall activity was down both in the second quarter compared to the previous quarter, and lower in June on a monthly basis. The declines came, even as foreclosure starts increased for the first time since 2009, thanks to a drop in bank repossessions.

However, the uptick in initial filings is less a matter of newly delinquent loans than simply banks working through backlog and legal issues, said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.

"More properties are starting the process, but at the same time not as many are making it to the end, largely because of short sales stepping in and syphoning off many of those troubled properties," Blomquist said.

Blomquist anticipates that trend will continue at least through the end of the year.

"We saw about 300,000 foreclosure starts in the second quarter, and according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, 3 million more loans are delinquent that have not yet started the foreclosure process," he said. "Of those 3 million, 1.5 million are seriously delinquent. Assuming those 1.5 million enter the foreclosure process eventually, at 300,000 per quarter, that's another five quarters," before things begin to balance out. "Somewhere close to the end of next year or beginning of 2014, I think we’ll be getting back to levels of foreclosures that will be closer to normal."

See RealtyTrac’s full foreclosure report for June, the second quarter, and mid-year 2012.

Claire Easley is a senior editor at Builder.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Greenville, SC.