The windows are broken. The doors are off their hinges. The walls have been punched through like Swiss cheese. The appliances, curtain rods, faucets and other supposedly built-in fixtures have been ripped out and presumably sold. Paint or perhaps motor oil has been poured over the once-pristine carpets. The basement has been flooded. The plumbing is stopped up, and the stench is indescribable.

All that — and much more — describes the state of many of the homes that are for sale in foreclosure-wracked markets around the country.

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