A foreclosure/price reduced sign stands in front of a home for sale on February 11, 2011 in Miami, Fla.
A foreclosure/price reduced sign stands in front of a home for sale on February 11, 2011 in Miami, Fla. - 
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Jeremy Hobson: Now to the housing market. RealtyTrac said this morning 14 percent more borrowers started defaulting on their mortgages last quarter than in the previous three month period. But it's apparently taking lenders longer to actually repossess homes. None of that is particularly good news for buyers, who are already complaining about the condition of the houses they're looking at.

Marketplace's Nancy Marshall Genzer explains.

Nancy Marshall Genzer: Realtors call it "curb appeal" -- the extras home sellers throw in, things like landscaping or painting the window trim. But these days, in places hit hard by foreclosures, houses just aren't getting gussied up -- on the outside or inside.

Cybil Solyn: The houses are just so crappy right now. They look really terrible.

Cybil Solyn and her husband, Nils Devine, recently bought a house in Oakland, Calif., and have quite a house-hunting tale.

Solyn: So, then I can talk to you about the rats.

So why aren't houses being spruced up? Guy Cecala publishes Inside Mortgage Finance. He says sellers are looking at the competition.

Guy Cecala: If you're in a neighborhood where all the houses are foreclosed property and all the kitchens look like hell, then you may think there's not a lot of reason for me to fix it up.

So is curb appeal dead? Depends where you live. But if you're shopping for homes in foreclosureland, don't expect granite countertops.

In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

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