It didn't get any easier for thousands of Massachusetts mortgage holders to pay their bills during the first quarter, as a new report released Monday found that petitions to foreclose rose 79.8 percent compared with the first quarter in 2006. In addition to the documented rise in pending foreclosures, foreclosure sales in the Bay State jumped an eye-opening 191.7 percent when compared with the first quarter of last year, according to the report published by The Warren Group. Mortgage lenders filed 6,395 petitions to foreclose in Massachusetts Land Court during the first quarter, compared with 3,556 in the first quarter of 2006 and 3,130 in the first quarter of 2005. That number is slightly higher than the number of petitions in the fourth quarter of last year, when 6,376 were filed. There were 3,118 advertisements for foreclosure auctions during the first quarter compared with 1,069 during the first quarter of last year and 1,148 during the first quarter of 2005, the Warren Group said in its report. Petitions to foreclose are the first step in the foreclosure process, and do not always end in actual foreclosure. Some homeowners eventually sell their homes or refinance. â€œSales in the housing market are picking up a bit, but did not get brisk enough during the first quarter to make it easy for those who get far behind on payments to sell their homes before the foreclosure process begins,â€? said Timothy Warren Jr., CEO of The Warren Group. â€œMany people got into the housing market at a time when loans were easy to come by, and are finding it difficult to keep up with payments as the rates adjust.â€?