NEW YORK (AP) — A new report says about 1.9 million homes entered the foreclosure process in 2011, the lowest level since before the recession began in late 2007.

But the foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. cautions that this is not necessarily a sign that the housing market is getting better, because many foreclosures have been delayed due to confusion over documentation and legal issues involved in the process.

RealtyTrac says it expects that 2012's foreclosure rate will be higher than last year's but will remain below the peak of 2010.

The listing firm said that 2011's foreclosure rate is 34 percent lower than for 2010 and the lowest since 2007, with Nevada, Arizona and California among those with the most foreclosures.

The company said that December's foreclosure filings on 205,024 homes were the lowest monthly total since November 2007.