the smell of my desperation has become a stench

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.

But, SIGNED CONTRACT.

But, NOTHING.

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.

ONTO MY NEW DRIVEWAY.

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

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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