Foreclosure activity in Massachusetts soared in April, according to Warren Group report

Massachusetts foreclosure activity increased in April as lenders moved to deal with delinquent loans, according to a report released Tuesday by the Warren Group, a Boston company that tracks local real estate.

The number of petitions, the first step in the foreclosure process, rose to 1,750, a 47 percent increase from last April, and the highest level in nearly two years, the Warren Group said.

The number of foreclosure deeds, the last step in seizure process, jumped to 714 in April, 19 percent more than in April 2011.

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Between January and April, 2,968 completed foreclosures have been completed, a 30.5 percent increase compared with the same time last year, the Warren Group said.

Cory S. Hopkins, editorial director of the tracking firm,, said the rise in foreclosures looks particularly dramatic because the numbers were low last year. In 2011, lenders slowed down foreclosure activity to examine procedures following national concerns about shoddy and fraudulent practices by major lenders.

“It’s necessary for a wave of foreclosures to work through the system this year, but it shouldn’t cause panic,’’ Hopkins said. “To return to a healthier market, the backlog of distressed properties needs to be cleared from banks’ books.”