Francisco and Pam Cruz maneuvered around boxes of new flooring and open cans of paint as they surveyed the foreclosed Phoenix house they would soon call their own.

This house wasn’t typical of the thousands in foreclosure-battered Arizona that banks have auctioned for cheap — often to investors who make just enough repairs to satisfy a potential renter.

The Cruzes will become first-time homeowners, helped by one of many nonprofit groups that can snag foreclosures at a discount — and sometimes for free — before banks make them available to speculators.

It’s a glimmer of hope for struggling neighborhoods that are watching banks foreclose on a record number of homes this year.

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