LAS CRUCES, NM (KRQE) – A New Mexico woman says she’s worked her whole life to pay for her house forever. However, a surprise knock on his door changed everything.
Maria Zaragoza’s quiet corner house has been her sanctuary for 16 years. “It means everything to me,” Zaragoza told KRQE News 13.
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The retired home health worker bought her house in April 2006. She bought the house from another Spanish-speaking couple, Jacenta and Crisofo Garcia, signed and notarized a real estate contract and paid $20,000 cash in deposit in a sale. agreement between owners.
“I would work more than 60 hours a week,” Zaragoza said. Before retiring, she cared for sick and elderly patients in their homes for a home care business.
Zaragoza came to the United States from Mexico in the 1960s and moved to the Las Cruces area to raise her three sons in a safe environment. She said she chased the American dream and worked hard to plant roots here, to buy something of her own.
“This is where I want to die,” Zaragoza said, referring to his home. She said she was paying the sellers $1,000 a month in cashier’s checks, with the agreement that she would get title to the property when final payment was made.
“I have all the copies,” she explained. When asked if she had ever been late on a monthly payment, Zaragoza replied: “No, because I received a notarized letter at the time of purchase that if I was one month late. day, I’d be charged an extra $100.”
In 2011, Zaragoza made the final payment for his house. “I was happy and satisfied until I learned that the lady couldn’t give me the title because the bank had it, and I panicked,” she recalls.
Zaragoza explained that after making the final payment and requesting the title deed for the house, the seller admitted to taking out a mortgage on the house after selling it in Zaragoza. It turns out his real estate contract was never registered by the county assessor.
Zaragoza said she fell very ill from the stress of the situation and feared losing her home. For years, she felt her hands were tied with the title of her house in limbo.
A knock at the door
Then, in 2016, Zaragoza explained that there was a knock on his front door, which turned his world upside down. Someone she had never met before let her know that the house she thought she had paid for was actually headed for foreclosure.
“What happened to Ms. Zaragoza was a great injustice,” said Karina Rocha. Rocha is an attorney with New Mexico Legal Aid, a nonprofit organization that provides free legal assistance to eligible low-income New Mexico residents.
Rocha took on the Zaragoza case in November. “I thought it was weird that the case had been going on for so long and still hadn’t been resolved,” Rocha told KRQE News 13.
She said there had been a turnover of judges assigned to the case, a series of motions filed in court and sellers failing to show up for hearings. “The goal is to try to get Mrs Zaragoza to keep her house and then the banks to stop trying to seize the house,” Rocha said.
Rocha explained that the defaulted mortgage was originally held by Wells Fargo, then the debt was sold to Master Participation Trust LSF9, a company that appears to wholesale foreclosed mortgages.
“This couple, a few months later after signing the contract with Ms Zaragoza, got a loan for the property of around $78,000, which is now interest bearing, and I believe it is now $142,000.
Fighting a Surprise Seizure
For years, New Mexico Legal Aid has been able to fend off a foreclosure sale. However, Rocha claims that this year LSF9 has been more aggressive in court, seeking to recoup the costs of the Zaragoza home, filing a motion for summary judgment and the home for sale.
“Just because she’s almost 70 and she has to go through this anxiety and this depression, not knowing if she will be homeless in a few days,” Rocha explained to the stress her client is going through. “Sometimes I don’t even sleep thinking about it,” Zaragoza said.
The Zaragoza lounge is largely empty. Her kids said she had already started packing things, just in case. When asked if she should move in with one of your sons, Zaragoza replied, “Yes, they won’t leave me alone,” she smiles, wiping a tear from her eye. “I have very good children.”
She said she wanted to share her story as a warning to other homebuyers. “Be very careful because there are violent people there,” Zaragoza said.
The Garcias don’t have a lawyer listed. Rocha said they were missing and she would seek a trial so her client could present evidence that she was defrauded by the Garcias.
Rocha said Legal Aid plans to report the matter to the attorney general’s office for possible criminal charges. Meanwhile, Zaragoza is patiently awaiting the end of the impending court battle.
“My hope is God and us,” Zaragoza said. “It’s my only hope.”
After KRQE conducted talks with Zaragoza and his attorney, a new Doña Ana County District Court judge was assigned to the case and granted an emergency motion to postpone the foreclosure sale.
New Mexico Legal Aid attorneys said they would continue to press for a civil trial and then contact the AG’s office to press for fraud charges.