U.S. foreclosure filings fell 19 percent in January, compared to the same month a year ago, but will likely rise in the coming months, according to a report released Wednesday by RealtyTrac.

There were 210,941 foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions or bank reposessions — nationwide in January 2012, a 3 percent increase from December. California cities and Las Vegas continue to see a large number of foreclosures.

RealtyTrac, like many economists, predicts that the number of foreclosures will rise again now that the lawsuit against five major banks filed by state attorneys general over foreclosure fraud was settled last week.

(See heat maps for Virginia and D.C.)


View Photo Gallery: As families are forced out of their homes after falling behind on mortgage payments, a nationwide glut of foreclosed homes is expected to depress U.S. housing values for years.

“The settlement sets forth clear guidelines for lenders and servicers to follow when foreclosing, which should allow them to push through some of the delayed foreclosures from last year,” said Brandon Moore, chief executive of RealtyTrac of Irvine, Calif.

The report found that default notices increased 100 percent in Maryland in January.

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