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The number of foreclosures in Massachusetts rose in October, marking the first monthly increase of the year, and an indication that lenders are moving to seize homes faster.

Last month, lenders completed foreclosures on 756 homes across the state, a 35.7 percent increase from the 557 during October 2010, according to data released yesterday by Warren Group, a Boston company that tracks local real estate data.

Foreclosure petitions, the first step in the legal process, also rose in October, to 1,193, a 5.9 increase compared with the same period last year.

The rising number of foreclosures was anticipated by many housing specialists following a lull last fall that was prompted by concerns over sloppy and fraudulent seizure procedures carried out by major US banks.

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Tim Davis, a researcher with the Massachusetts Housing Partnership, a public nonprofit, said the jump doesn’t mean more people are getting into financial trouble, but that lenders are increasingly taking action to deal with problem properties.

In fact, the number of Massachusetts homeowners who are 30 days or more delinquent on their mortgages is heading downward, dropping to 7.6 percent in September, 4.6 percent less than during the same month last year, according to Lender Processing Services Inc., a Florida company that provides mortgage services and research.

Davis believes foreclosure numbers will increase through 2012 as lenders work their way through problematic loans, something he said will eventually help the state’s flailing housing market despite the trouble it will cause for some homeowners.

“We certainly need to clear the foreclosures for the market be fully restored to a normal market,’’ he said.

Timothy Warren Jr., chief executive of Warren Group, agreed with Davis’s contention that despite the distress foreclosures cause individuals, the increase in property-takings will help improve the overall state of housing in Massachusetts.

“The real estate market cannot fully recover until foreclosures have been dealt with one way or another,’’ he said.

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From January through October, 6,963 homes in Massachusetts were taken by foreclosure, 39 percent fewer than during the same period in 2010, according to Warren Group.

There were 10,610 foreclosure petitions filed during the first 10 months of the year, according to the tracking company.

As foreclosures mount, housing activists around the state are protesting more property seizures and what they say is lenders’ unwillingness to help homeowners modify their loans to affordable payments.

Eliza Parad, community organizer for the Citywide Tenants Association, part of the nonprofit Chelsea Collaborative, said lenders could better serve communities and boost the economy by reducing the mortgage burden for troubled homeowners. That way, she said, more people would be able to “stay in their homes and spend money.’’


Jenifer B. McKim can be reached at jmckim@globe.com.