An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

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.

  • 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!

  • WebSavyMom

    –>I wonder if Chuck can teach the bobcat how to balance stuff on his head. Also, don’t bobcat’s like Coco?

    (Congrats on the dream house!)

  • SuzRocks

    Hey, at least it was only a bobcat that lived in the shed and not her ex-husbands other three wives that she had locked up.

    Be grateful for the small things in life.

  • Jeff_C

    Congratulations to you all! Way to go. And, nicely written storyline, Heather. It’s amazing how many different changes happen all at once, huh? Househunting, business trips, plus all that your daughters were up to along the way. So NOW you have a lot of fun with your house. Very cool. Thanks for letting us in on your adventures!

  • The Hubby Diaries

    OMG! First off let me say congratulations.. not for the new home (although, I’m beyond happy for you!), but I congratulate you for not killing each other, or running over annoying pedestrians on the street or starting an anonymous prank call campaign on all those who were involved.. just to deal with the stress!

    I’ve often thought we had the worst buying experience on the planet, but now that I’ve heard your story I’m starting to feel a little bit better… and it’s only taken 5 years! My skin still crawls if someone brings up the name of the old owner or story of our home purchase debacle.

    I wish I could tell you the whole story but rehashing it in detail, would easily take pages & pages and it would be filled with tears, some kicking, some yelling and maybe an ulcer.

    Here’s the “short” version:

    – We find our “dream home”.
    – Owner says we must close in 30 days
    – We scramble to be ready to close immediately
    – We lock in mortgage rate
    – Phone rings – deal is off – BUT he’s will to sell to us if we can wait a bit (his purchase fell through)
    – Our mortgage rate expires
    – We wait patiently
    – He decides to build his own home
    – We wait
    – New closing dates come and go
    – Many, many arguments directly with the owner and through our lawyers
    – One full year passes (YES! I said a full year)
    – New firm closing date
    – We lock in new mortgage rate
    – Firm closing date changes
    – We are about to lose another locked in mortgage
    – Eventually we close on the home but THEY continue to live there and rent it back from us… although they do not compensate us even close to the cost of our new mortgage, on OUR new home, that we are not living in.

    Almost 2 years after our signed contract, we move into our dream home. There were somes days all I could do was cry and some days all I could do was laugh hysterically at the absurdity of it all.

    I hope the new home is everything you hoped it would be!!!

  • k.wren

    i want quotes from this best email ever! it sounds awesome.

    AND also, whistler masthead might be the GREATEST EVER.

    yay heather! i’m happy for you, jon, leta, marlo, chuck, and THAT DOG.

  • RodgerPM

    I thought to myself, “If this doesn’t end with them getting the house I’m going to throw up.”

  • MGW816

    Heather…you are so hysterically funny. Thank you for sharing your humor and experiences!! And congrats on the new digs!

  • OCMomActivities – Katie

    Glad to hear it got sorted out. Buying a new house is always a major headache… but sounds like you had way more than your fair share of it this round! Congrats… now on to the mayhem that is unpacking! LOL.

  • Nerissa

    That’s ridiculous and incredible all at once! Glad it all worked out in the end and I can’t wait to see pictures of the place after you’re all moved in!

  • ohmetalheart

    I am dying to read Jon’s email.

  • Larkspur

    This is hilarious. The former owner thought SHE was playing the Crazy Card, but it turns out she’s a total amateur. When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. You can’t play a player. This is a big dooce win. Yay!

  • mamatabea

    a – ma – zing! so worth waiting for part three! i hope you get back in enjoyment and comfort what you already paid in stress and anxiety for this house =)
    All the best!!

  • JasmineStar

    I like you more than what should be considered normal. I have an Internet crush on you…and your dog. And I couldn’t be happier for you and John. And Susan.

  • phoward8020

    Heather, it’s this kind of writing that’s kept me coming back since before Dooce was a verb. 🙂

    Warmest congratulations and best wishes.

  • napangel

    Woo hoo!!!!

  • Coyote

    I am never going to try to buy a house.

    Can I come live with the bobcat?

  • julieisthebest

    God, what a clusterfuck.

    My husband and I were talking about attempting to buy our first home before our lease was up in September but it is stories like this that make me realize we are gonna want like 6 months to sort everything out.

  • lisdom

    While I am very excited for your house and that everything worked out in the end, what I am MORE EXCITED ABOUT is your July banner, because probably my most hated thing in the world is whistling. Ok, that’s some hyperbole, but still. I really hate whistling, and the fact that you do, too, makes me happy beyond measure.

    But still, congrats on the house, yo.

  • gigantic

    I have been reading your blog since before you were married, and I have always enjoyed it. Until this series of posts. I really hope saying this does not banish me from your site and force me to be labeled a vicious troll, because I’m not a troll, and I am not vicious. I am a faithful and longtime reader who was severely put off by this story. I hope there can be some sort of civil conversation about this, and not just a horde of other commenters coming at me with rocks and bats.

    You’ve been hysterical, sleepless, angry, and frantic because of a McMansion you desired that was about five times the size of a house an ordinary family of four would inhabit? This is not jealousy speaking (I like my house just fine, and, most importantly, I like YOU, Heather), this is the view of a normal person who recognizes the limits of American desires and excess. (Not to mention the environmental consequences of people’s fabricated need to live in, heat, cool, and maintain houses and yards that are far, far beyond their ACTUAL needs). I love that you got your dream house, but it is just so off-putting to read a three part post about how you felt your life was ruined because you thought you might not be able to buy a ridiculously huge and expensive house. The desperate complaining is not just out of touch, it’s tasteless.

    I know you work for a living, but I also know there are hundreds of thousands of other people on this earth who work just as hard–and harder–who are not lucky enough to make a six figure income by taking pictures of their dogs or talking about poop (and, again, I LIKE the dog pictures and the poop talk–I come here everyday to see those pictures and read your words). Reading these last three posts was like listening to a famous person complain about having to make a reservation at a fancy restaurant or get in line to buy a $20,000 purse.

    The thing is, nothing bad actually happened to you. You had to deal with an extremely unreasonable person–I get it. You almost had to pay a higher interest rate on your mortgage–I get it. You have to get the boiler replaced–again, I get it. To you those things are nothing but a minor annoyance instead of an actual, real, life changing event. Consider the fact that the vast majority of the population, when faced with such things, would have simply not been able to buy the house because a) they couldn’t afford a lawyer, b) a higher interest rate would have rendered the mortgage simply unaffordable rather than a bit more annoyingly spendy, and c) they didn’t HAVE a huge amount of money lying around that would enable them to replace the boiler.

    I will always be a faithful reader of your website, and I hope that I am not attacked for voicing my opinion. This is an honest opinion, and I am entitled to this, right? Much like a fan who buys a record that enables a musician to keep on making music in order to make a living, I am a longtime reader who has taken part in enabling you to live the great life you live. I really hope this can create an honest, real discussion about needs vs. wants, environmental responsibility, and the economic concerns of ordinary people. Man, that sounds stupid and lofty, but I really mean it. This is the Dooce Community, right? Can we share real opinions?

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.

read more