Judge Issues Order To Sell Sierra Vista Home Over Owner’s Objections

FRIEND WHO CO-SIGNED LOAN WANTS OUT OF DEAL DUE TO LATE PAYMENTS

A financial dispute between two women who used to work together at the Town of Huachuca City has resulted in a court order that forces the sale of the house one of the women lives in.

Judge Laura Cardinal of the Cochise County Superior Court issued the Sept. 17 order in response to a Suit of Partition filed by Margaret Saenz, the longtime Huachuca City magistrate clerk. Saenz wants to extricate herself from a $30,500 bank loan she co-signed in 2011 for Jennifer Fuller, who also worked for Huachuca City at the time.

The loan is secured by the 2,100-square-foot home Fuller lives in near the Pueblo Del Sol Country Club in Sierra Vista. Cardinal’s order, which was granted over the Fuller’s objection, authorizes the appointment of a commissioner to market and sell the home, currently valued around $200,000.

The commissioner, who will be a real estate sales agent, is also authorized to sign any necessary documents to facilitate the closing. State law does not allow the judge to evict Fuller from the home prior to sale. Instead, the new owner will have to pursue that action if Fuller doesn’t move out first.

Public records show Fuller bought the home in 1993 but relied on Saenz’s good credit rating to obtain the 2011 loan. The purpose of the $30,500 loan is not noted in the court file.

Fuller pledged to make the loan payments even though both women signed a promissory note. Fast forward several years and Saenz became concerned about the effect of late payments on her credit record. In addition, Fuller lost her job in March as Huachuca City’s town clerk, a position she held since November 2017.

Saenz’s attorney Bob Stachel says all his client wants is the loan paid off as promised to protect her credit rating but the only way to do that is to make the payments herself, have Fuller refinance the outstanding loan, or have the house sold so the loan is paid off as part of the closing process. What makes Saenz’s request unusual is that she isn’t claiming an ownership interest in Fuller’s house even though Fuller added Saenz to the deed in 2011.

Stachel noted that partition orders are often needed with real estate or other property assets when people haven’t planned ahead for how to resolve disputes if one party needs or wants to break a verbal agreement.

“A partition is like a civil divorce where the parties didn’t have a pre-nup that states what happens if they breakup,” Stachel explained. “Instead, a judge gets asked to decide how things are settled.”

Fuller is representing herself in the case. Her answer to the court action admitted most of the facts put forth by Saenz but argued “a partition action is not a common benefit” for both women. Fuller asked Cardinal for time to refinance the loan through the end of November.

However, the judge approved the partition request despite Fuller’s opposition.  One issue appears to be Fuller’s inability over the last few months to refinance the balance of the 2011 loan.

Efforts to reach Fuller for comment were unsuccessful as the phone number she provided to the court has a mailbox that has been full for several days.