Next, part three

This is the final part, the one that began when our real estate agent asked, “Do you guys seem to attract this kind of craziness normally?” Because if you take the insane factor of the first homeowner, multiply it by a hundred and then feed it a truckload of Twinkies, that’s the owner of my dream home. She who at one point said, “If you leave the shed unlocked that bobcat will come back. But don’t worry, I’m pretty sure it’s friendly. It purrs.”

So our real estate agent put in our offer the morning after we walked through the house. They countered, we accepted the counter, the end, right? THAT’S HOW IT’S SUPPOSED TO WORK. Although I happen to have a track record of breaking things. Toes, tailbones, and apparently the rotation of the earth because that’s when all hell broke lose. I was in New York City on Mother’s Day when we had to sign the counter papers, unable to get a signal on my phone, unable to hear the 17 frantic voicemails Jon had left going I’M GOING TO FLY OUT THERE RIGHT NOW AND STRANGLE YOU MYSELF. And not in a kinky way.

The fax machine at the hotel was working, and then it wasn’t, and my car was on its way to pick me up to take me to the airport, and WE WERE GOING TO LOSE MY DREAM HOME. It felt like a scene out of a really suspenseful thriller as I ran around and around the block searching for a signal to talk to Jon, the fax machine creaking along… did you get it? No? Let me run back and try again. Clock ticking, ticking ticking… around the block again… attempting the fax again…my car waiting… ticking… ticking… BOOM! When the woman at the hotel finally managed to get that fax to send I asked about her name and told her that if my husband’s vasectomy miraculously reversed itself, we’d name our next kid after her.

It’s a boy? Sorry, kid. I promised Susan in New York.

So we had signed papers. Signed papers! Dates! Signatures! Deadlines to meet! YAY! Except, two days later the owner fired her real estate agent. That’s the first thing that raised our eyebrows, and then she made it really difficult to schedule an inspection. Second thing. And then she basically refused to let anyone in to make an appraisal. Third thing. Notice I haven’t mentioned the purring bobcat yet. That’s like, 300 things down on the list.

I’m not sure how earnest money works in other states, but in Utah you write an initial check with your offer that basically says $This Is How Much We Are Interested in Buying Your House. Usually about one percent of the asking price. And if everything goes like it’s supposed to go, that check is released the day of closing and is applied toward the price of the house. Well, this home owner thought that after a certain date on the contract had passed, she’d be written a check for that earnest money. And she could just spend it willy nilly.

When she was advised that this is not how it works, she said she wouldn’t sell the house because she needed that money to move.

But we have a signed contract.

But she didn’t care.



If we didn’t write her a check for the earnest money, she was going nowhere.

I don’t know what it’s called in other languages, but I think in English this is called extortion.

Yes, we could take her to court, but that could end up being thousands of dollars in legal fees, plus months and months of duking it out. We were still waiting for our loan to be approved, and the real estate agency basically said this: if you don’t take this risk, she won’t move out. This risk being: she takes that check, spends it on kibble for her bobcat, and then still refuses to move.

You guys, Jon and I didn’t sleep for days. I know, first world problem. But it was a total nightmare. It was making us physically ill. We’d already paid for the inspection and two appraisals, not too much, no, but I guess the biggest thing was, well, it was my dream house. A dream house I could afford. One I’d already foolishly imagined would be the place where we could host our entire families for holidays and graduations.

We took several days to weigh our options, and I guess the Universe was feeling generous, or perhaps it couldn’t stand the green coloration of Jon’s face, but in the meantime she hired a lawyer to sort out her options. And that lawyer told her to suck it that if she didn’t show up to sign closing papers, he would not represent her. She HAD no options. Also, LADY. DON’T PET THE BOBCAT.

Needless to say, we did not write that check.

A few days later we drove by the house and saw moving boxes and trucks, and it was like my brother that Christmas morning when he got the Millenium Falcon. We called our real estate agent, my mom, his mom, my sister, the mail carrier… WE EVEN DIALED RANDOM NUMBERS just so that we could shout SHE’S MOVING! And then Jon pretended he was Han Solo and I was Princess Leia.

But then. Yes. There is a but then. A very large but then. A but then that required the services of six different lawyers representing six different interests. Turns out that the homeowner’s ex-husband whose name was still on the title of the house had one enormous lien taken out against the home in his name. Like, huge. Like, more money than she was going to walk away with from the sale. And since the two of them no longer speak to each other, his lawyer was talking to her lawyer was talking to the lawyer of the title company was talking to the lawyer of the real estate agency was talking to the lawyer representing the lien. Add in our lawyer, and it’s a wonder the temple didn’t fall into the giant black hole that formed in the middle of Salt Lake City.

Estimates were that not only were they not going to be able to figure out the lien situation by the closing date, but that it might take so long that we might lose the interest rate on our now-approved loan. Since Jon’s phone was our point of contact for everything concerning this house, I developed a pavlovian response and would vomit when I heard the first three notes on his ringtone.

Cut to the week of closing, and I’m in New York City AGAIN, this time for the HGTV event, and I’m grabbing a quick bite to eat at a deli when, no joke, the song from Jon’s ringtone comes on the radio. That was the end of THAT sandwich.

Closing date comes and goes, and still no progress on the lien. I was capital L LIVID. And no one was giving a straight answer. But how could anyone? Because one lawyer had five other lawyers to check in with, and you know they were all off either golfing or busy billing someone for paperclips and staples.

Three days passed, and at that point I couldn’t go on living not knowing what the hell was going on. So I go, Jon, this is it. I want you to pull the My Wife Is Crazy Card. I want you to BLAME ME. Tell them I am ready to sue FOR EVERYTHING. For all the money we’ve spent up to this point, for all our lawyer’s fees, for what it is costing to hold our interest rate every day past closing, and oh! Mention that I’m emotionally unstable! In fact, tell them I once spent a few days in a psyche ward! THINK YOU’RE INSANE, BOBCAT LADY? THINK AGAIN.

And I think our lawyer believed him. Because the email he wrote to all those other lawyers will go down as my favorite email ever written. By four o’clock that day, we had keys to the house.

And when we showed up to have celebratory champagne on the giant porch, guess who was still there? And guess whose stuff was still pouring out of boxes stacked to the ceiling in the garage?

It was then that she approached us and asked if legally we could speak to each other, even though she was the one who had four weeks previously stated that she wanted no contact with us or our real estate agent without some sort of intermediary. We said we didn’t see why we couldn’t speak, and that’s when she wistfully showed us where the bobcat had lived. And when she got to the part about how it purred, well, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I started laughing. Maniacally. Like, to the point that I had tears coming down my face, and I almost fell over.


WE GOT THE HOUSE! And with it, so many amazing ideas and opportunities. I can’t wait to get started.

  • TriptikGirl

    Congrats! Glad to hear it all worked out.

  • mrswilson

    Oh seriously. You made me laugh out loud too many times during this post.

    SO excited for you all and SO glad that it all (finally) worked out. Goodness.

    CONGRATULATIONS on the new house!!!

    ps. love the new banner. I also despise whistlers.

  • mommica

    Hooray for happy endings! Are you moved in already?

  • Pinkporches

    That bobcat is SO going to eat your chickens.

    But other than that, YAY for you!

  • Daddy Scratches

    Congrats on the new house, Heather. Glad it had a happy ending.

    We have our house on the market right now and are trying to sell it and move from the Boston area to the Philadelphia area, and no one’s buying houses (unless they’re dream houses in Utah), and we can’t buy a house until we sell our house, and I’m unemployed, and I can’t take a job in Pennsylvania until we actually live in Pennsylvania, and … do you see where this is going? I’m headed to the PSYCH WARD! I’m not playing the crazy card; I AM THE CRAZY CARD!.

    Ahem. Sorry. A bit stressed. Congrats again.

  • curlsz

    Ok I’m a realtor – and minus the bob cat this story sounds ODDLY like two other deals I brokered – except in one case we had an attorney racing through downtown traffic on closing days to subpoena someone – OTHER than that – welcome to my NUTSO world and congrats on the new house – now you can hire more people and have more children and oh wait vasectomy…forgot

  • LaLaBoo

    Oh my God- You do draw crazy like a lightning rod!!

    Congrats on the house!

  • muirne81


    Now, release Jon’s epic email. :)

  • zabadu

    Jesus fucking Christ – I would have been using the Uzi days before you had your meltdown. I’m glad it’s your dream house because not much is worth that kind of crazy!


  • Amber

    CONGRATULATIONS! I’ve always wanted a friendly bobcat!

    So glad it all worked out. YOU DESERVE THIS! Hope to see pictures as your ideas for your new dream home unfold!

  • twelvedaysold

    You. Are a saint. Good job you guys.

    ALSO, I’m so glad to hear I’m not the only one who tells my husband to use the whole “crazy wife” technique! I guess it’s for a certain breed of us who have no shame.

  • Greta Koenigin

    ‘too light winning make the prize light’?

    ‘all’s well that ends well’?

    ‘unsex me here’?


  • sweetpotatopie

    I’m surprised she didn’t charge you extra for the nice kitty.

    Bat. shit. crazy.

    Anyway, congratultions! Hope the home turns out to be everything you want it to be for your family.

  • Stephani


    Congrats Heather- I’m so excited for you!

  • MrsRoo

    Congratulations! Your new house is fabulous and I wish you tons of happiness there.

    Change those locks, girl. What a crazy, crazy bobcat lady. I sure as hell hope she didn’t feed that thing.

  • Leball

    Congrats! And wow, what a crazy bitch right! You should put her as bait in the shed!

  • atmosphericNOISE

    This is a situation that requires me to quote Randy Pausch:

    Armstrong family, “Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want something badly enough. They are there to keep out the other people.”

    You smashed the shit out of the brick wall and good for you!

  • cassidy.stockton

    I’m probably the 45th person to say congratulations, but you totally earned! Having just bought our first house and going through a similar, albeit less messy, closing (delays, leins, etc), I can truly say you earned it. The crazy card works- no harm in using it to your advantage. Sounds like bobcat lady had a few cards missing from her deck. Good luck with the move! Can’t wait to see what you guys do with the place, besides running around naked and throwing peanut butter at the dogs.

  • MelissaJ

    sorry…but this is HYSTERICAL.

    only you could this happen to!

    the house is stunning…and i can’t wait to hear the stories of the bobcat…and coco herding it…and Leta hating it…and chuck ignoring it…and marlo laughing at it.

  • jan001

    Wootus maximus!!! Congratulations! And well-played with the crazy card.

    (PS: Just saw the photo of Ranger and must commend him on his lanyard selection. Go, Titans!)

  • picklesalt

    Congrats to you and your family, Heather.

    What a stupid bitch!

  • Abra Cat

    Wow… congratulations! I had to skip ahead to the end– I just couldn’t take the suspense.

  • Becca

    CHANGE THE LOCKS NOW!!!! seriously, she sounds like the kind that might come back to “visit”

    (and, tee hee, my verification words included “negotiation”)

  • musickatt

    WOOHOO! Congratulations! And now you are going to have a huge house warming party and invite the entire DC to celebrate with you, right? Pictures, pictures, pictures!! Post LOTS of pictures!

  • francabollo

    You’re happy, I’m happy for you. But I’d be happIER if you could post the lawyer’s e-mail that sealed the deal.

  • filmlady

    Maybe the batshit lady IS the bobcat. You know, Twilight and all that. Congrats on the beautiful home!

  • mommyoffour

    Congrats Armstrong family!! What an ordeal, but SO worth it in the end, right?! Can’t wait for all the pictures, and crazy family gatherings you’re going to host. Did you buy this house just for the stories that will come out of it??

  • evergrey

    Yeah!! Congratulations!
    And thanks for sharing in the insanity!

  • Tobie

    Congratulations!!! What a nightmare of a process, tho!

    Maybe see if you can get the bobcat to balance things on its head for pictures?? – since, u know, it’s supposedly friendly. :)

  • Mogsie

    congratulations!!! What a beautiful place to settle in ~ Totally looking forward to the re-do-re-model-do-si-doe-ing.

    I love vicarious remodeling…so very, very painless.


  • akebeth

    Hooray! When do we get to see your new favorite e-mail of all time? Cause it sounds awesome.

  • Momo05

    What a happy ending! (minus bobcat) We dealt with a slightly crazy divorced woman when we purchased our house last year on a court-ordered sale. One of my new neighbors kindly suggested having a spiritual healer come in to eradicate the crazy spirits and bless our home. Hm.

    The bobcats, hardwoods and liens have also served an educational purpose. I am studying to take the bar exam at the end of the month and this story reads like a real property essay question. Hooray for lawyers, right?

  • tallnoe

    I was unaware that I was holding my breath till the end of the story. But I was.


  • Schnauzie_Mom

    Wooohooo Heather, Jon, Leta, Marlo, Chuck and Coco!! Enjoy that house, it’s gorgeous:-)

  • EarlGreyHot

    Wow, you so deserved to get that house. Congratulations!
    But seriously, just READING the whole story stressed me out, how did you manage to not go crazy? The only thing missing there was lawyers hiring lawyers to talk to lawyers. And I’d very much like to read that email, but since that’s probably impossible I’ll make do with pictures. Lots of them, please!

    The new masthead is brilliant. Has Tyrant whistled the tune for you yet? Or does he only do stream-of-consciousness-whistling?

  • luv and kiwi

    that stressed me the heck out. i don’t know if i could ever do that. whenever i’m feeling sorry for myself wondering if i’ll ever have a home of my own i’ll remember that and shut the eff up.

  • tokenblogger

    Wait — does this mean it didn’t come with the piano?

    Come on! Leta NEEDS a piano!

  • Lizzy

    You just attract all kinds of crazy, don’t you?

  • shastawho

    I was biting my nails while reading this in fear that the Crazy Bobcat Bitch would ask to continue living at your dream house WITH you.

    But that didn’t happen…yet!

  • brendadog

    You really lucked out. Unwinding liens on a property take forever.

  • SteffernieA

    Halle-freakin-lujah! Congrats Armstrongs! Can’t wait to see how Chuck and Coco react to Mr. Bobcat in the backyard!

  • kfhgreer

    I’d sure as heck think about an exorcism, if you will, to rid the place of any bad juju the ding-dong may have left behind. Then, introduce your happy and positive karma.

    Give me the bobcat over the ding-dong any day. At least you’re dealing with a known quantity. Ding-dongs come at you out of left field. Unpredictable sumbitches.

  • saraminerva444

    Holy mother of Moses, what a pain in the ass. It’s nice when The Crazy comes in handy. Glad it all worked out!

  • cory212

    Whew, I’m exhausted! Congratulations on the new house! Can’t wait to see how magnificently you decorate it.

  • gavintiegirl

    There is nothing worse than getting all emotionally invested in a house and then not getting it. The waiting is stressful. It’s the kids in us. Congrats! Can’t wait to see more pictures.

  • jboucher032

    Yipee!! I was so nervous all weekend. Super strange about the bobcat…and the bobcat lady of course. I LOVE UTAH sometimes. Congratulations!!

  • dawdawsmom

    congratulations heather…you will hence forth be known as…The Cat Lady! =o)

  • HeckYes

    Holy effing H!!! Congratulations! It was worth the wait. Yay for the Armstrongs!!!

  • kristanhoffman

    1) LOLOLOL this might be my fave header ever!!!
    2) Tell Coco if she’s bad, she’s getting fed to the bobcat!
    3) Congrats on the new house! I’m sorry about all the hell you went through to get it, but as always, there is that small silver (ish… or maybe it’s just plain gray?) lining: BLOG FODDER!

  • Noelle

    Just last week I asked my husband for a pet bobcat…so..if it doesn’t work out living in your shed, please send him my way!
    Wait…does that make me a crazy Bobcat lady? Meh, I can live with it!