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.

  • patches23

    I live east of Seattle near the Cascade foothills on the built-up/rural border. A couple of months ago neighbors up the street were awakened in the middle of the night by their cats warning them about a bobcat right outside their window. They got great photos. Videos, too.

  • Missives From Suburbia

    I think everyone involved in the sale of a home realizes that potential insanity that exists in all of us, and when they are confronted with someone who truly has suffered a major meltdown of their sanity in the past, they can all grasp the possible ramifications of THAT particular person being tossed over the edge of house-closing insanity, even if they can’t fully digest what it means to them personally (loss of life, limb, firstborn, etc.) I have been the crazy one, sitting in a title company’s front lobby, telling every single customer who walked through the door the details of my nightmare closing until the receptionist wisely ushered me into her boss’s office where I could scream loud enough for everyone to hear me. Did I get the keys? You bet your ass I got the keys. Crazy sells. It also buys.

    Well played, Armstrongs. Well played.

  • Nhiro

    Holy crap. This post had everything: suspense, disappointment, happy ending. So glad it all worked out for you.


  • imaynotremember


  • Feastafterfamine

    Congratulations on the house! The burning question, though, remains: what’s Jon’s ringtone?

  • sgseward

    Congratulations on the new house! It’s gorgeous!

  • Maladroit

    < little neighbor boy at end of the Incredibles>
    < /little neighbor boy at end of the Incredibles>

  • wicked opinion

    I tell my daughter to use the Mean Mom card. Works every time. CONGRATS CONGRATS CONGRATS! Now, I REALLY REALLY need to read the Email That Jon Wrote. please?

  • insidedog

    This was RIVETING!! And I am SO GLAD you won!! hooray for your dream house!! I must say that as frustrating as this must have been at the time, it does make for awesome blog fodder. Which is why you’re Dooce, I suppose. Congrats and hope you get to move in soon!

  • tifotter

    Want to see email lawyer wrote! MUST see!

    No chickens for you. Chickens and bobcats do not play well together. Or dogs for that matter. But especially bobcats.



  • IrenicEmbers

  • Tricia

    I hope you take one of the rooms in that monster and wallpaper it with cash. 🙂

    Happy moving!

  • Ezza

    Goes to show that nothing worth having ever comes easily! (But it would be nice if something came easily… every once in a while… or even once.)

    From someone who recently bought their own dream home- enjoy it. Don’t forget that it is yours and you’ve earned it. People are jealous because of their own shortcomings, not your overachievments.

    You are the valedictorian of home owners and the world can suck it.

    But in all honesty – I feel kind of sorry for the crazy bob cat lady. She’s obviously way out of her depth with her finances and is seriously going to miss that purring bob cat.

    I hope things turn out okay for her too.

  • sandi

    Ignore the naysayers!! Who gives a shit how much it costs or how big it is? It’s your dream home and that is all the matters. Why can’t people be happy for others?

    I am so excited for you! CONGRATS!!!!

  • KellyKel

    Congrats Armstrongs!! I hope you have many wonderful years in your new home.

  • Victoria_Girl

    Ahhh, yes, but what about the bobcat?

  • Christina_MT

    I’m so, so happy for you guys. And also…so, so jealous. Seriously, it’s gorgeous.

    Enjoy your new home.

  • Buttons McTavish

    Well I was just gonna cry if you didn’t get that gorgeous house. Your rendition of the events was hilarious, as ever. I’m very happy for you and don’t feel one bit sorry for that crazy conniving bobcat lady.
    You guys schooled her, good. The force is Armstrong with this one!

    LOVE the masthead.

  • SuzieQ1

    and a bobcat to boot…how lucky can you get??

  • They made me choose a username

    I’ve heard that if you have a problem with cats or dogs leaving messes in your yard, you can scare them away with the smell of wildcat urine. So what does one use to scare away a wildcat? Python pee?

    My husband has an outdoorsman friend who says that often when people’s pets go missing in the Utah foothills (or even sometimes in the valleys) it’s because they were tracked and killed by cougars or other wild predators.

    (But do bobcats really purr?)

  • strick52

    Oh I hope you get chickens and sign up for the Tour de Coop. Good luck!

  • Mrs.Koehnke_ it is pronouced kinky. Like S and M

    You really do attract crazy! So glad this part didn’t conclude with you not having the awesome house. I love your new home! Congratulations!

    But I am even MORE in love with your new MASTHEAD! I hate whistling and was so glad another woman than me also hated it and now there it is, on Internet notoriety that I am not alone so now maybe, MAYBE my husband will STOP EFFING WHISTLING. Whew!

    This is my third edit, because I just read the NOVEL of a comment left on the previous page and I am just astonish at her audacity. I am a relatively new reader, but this blog is about your life, Right? I’ve read your archives and you tweeted before twitter existed! You got fired for writing about your job! So buying this house, which will enable your assistant to have an office and your girls to sleep away from where you work is what is going on in your life, yes? This house was your dream house, so why wouldn’t you be sick about it? It’s hard when you dream big and then fail to achieve it, so why would she be so hard on you, Heather, for being sick over potentially losing a dream, even if it’s a dream some people can’t obtain? Don’t ever let anyone diminish your success. I enjoyed your posts, as did the majority of your commenters. You are good at what you do, and you deserve all that you have achieved.

  • Noni

    Congrats!! And I too would change the locks this minute.

  • TXinUK

    Best “buying a house” story e-vah! Congratulations you crazy kids! Here’s to dreams coming true.

  • Nina Amelia

    FINALLY. I wanted to kill someone just by reading that.

    Congratulations!!!! 🙂

  • kshooter

    CONGRATULATIONS ON THE HOUSE! I can’t wait to see what you do with the place.

    And yes, your problem is a 1st World Problem, BUT IT’S STILL A PROBLEM. You are allowed to be upset about it and to express your feelings about it ON YOUR OWN WEBSITE.

    Sweet Fancy Moses. Some people.

  • The Bold Soul

    That story will no doubt go down in the record books of real estate. Like, future generations of novice real estate agents will be learning about THIS case in their classes, just as proof of how fucking bizarre some homeowners can be. (No wonder that house was on the market for 800 days!) My biggest problem when I bought my condo was that the owner decided, at the last minute and AFTER we did the official pre-closing walk-through, that she HAD TO KEEP all the curtain rods, even though they were on the list of what was included in the sale. My R.E. agent explained that (a) the woman was 6 months pregnant so, you know, all those hormones and all, and (b) the couple in question was losing $35,000 on the sale of the house and it was like that woman just couldn’t stand to lose ONE MORE THING, so she took the curtain rods. And I thought THAT was crazy. My real estate agent — best agent in the world, by the way — presented me with brand new curtain rods at the closing, paid for out of her own pocket, just because she felt bad about that crazy pregnant homeowner being such a bitch.

    Congrats to you for having the smarts to play the “My wife is crazy” card — isn’t it nice to know that, this time, your mental health history really worked in your favor? Looking forward to lots of great pix as you go forward, and hope selling your current house goes MUCH better than buying your dream house did. Congratulations, Jon and Heather!

  • The Bold Soul

    Just occurred to me: how cool would it be for you if you discovered the crazy lady packed the bobcat in a box and took it to her new home? I mean, really, if she liked it THAT much…

  • sarahdoow

    Many congratulations on your new house – and your new bobcat!
    I do hope there’ll be a new Daily Bobcat section when you’re all settled in.

  • pixiegolightly


    And I would really like a copy of that email. We have an asshole buildings manager to deal with at the moment and I think I could get some real mileage out of the 3 hours I spent in a psyche ward once.

  • Lucy_Luck

    Wow, I’m so glad you got your dream house! Your posts really made me feel for your situation. I can totally sympathize with the Insano people – it’s amazing how people can have a complete disregard for the stress you go through when buying or renting a property. I really felt for you there! Anyway, you have an awesome time celebrating and planning new things for the house!

  • lund7600

    I’m happy to read it worked out in the end! I thought my former homeowner was crazy when she asked if she could still have her family Christmas dinner in the (ugly, moldy) basement after I bought the house, but you win!

  • This Crap Is Hard

    I am insanely jealous of you guys. Not just because of the beautiful house you’re blessed enough to afford, but because we have been waiting over FOUR MONTHS to close. On a little old ’99 doublewide attached to an acre of land. In Kentucky.

    You know why we’ve been waiting that long? Because the government likes to fuck people over for more money. I can’t IMAGINE how long it would be taking if the homeowners were insano on top of all that.

  • miatadoll

    Congrats to you all!

  • Bree

    YAY!!!!!! I’m so happy for you guys!!! 🙂 I can’t wait to see pics of your kids & dogs in THAT amazing house. You should totally post the email that your lawyer wrote……if that’s legal.

  • shestumbledin

    Phewww!! Congratulations Heather! It’s absolutely stunning — and I can’t wait to see you put your stamp on it.

    Also excited to hear about Coco’s bobcat round-up expertise.

  • Lauren3

    Yesssss YOU GUYS DID IT!

    What an excellent account of how you came to get your dream house. I did a small victory dance in my chair at work. No I lied… I did a big victory dance.

  • meghanb

    Congratulations! Now, take a shot of bourbon (or two).

  • gretchie

    Gigantic – I’m not going to bash you… You’re kinda missing the point of Heather’s three-part story. Of course her problems are not the horrors of someone who is forced to foreclose on their home or is old and finding themselves w/o a retirement fund. That’s awful stuff, and her situation does not compare. But the point of Heather’s telling this story is that… If you or I wrote it, it would be like… eh. Whatever. But when Heather writes, it’s fun to read. That’s it. That’s why I come here. I don’t expect her problems to relate to mine, I just enjoy her mad writing skills and let’s face it – it was a fun story to read (I’m sure it wasn’t fun to go through). What Heather does is opens her life and writes about it in a way that makes you feel like she’s your good buddy telling you about something that just happened to her. We all have friends that tell us these stories and we agree with them sometimes, and sometimes we think they’re being too whiny. But if they at least make it kind of amusing, they’re fun to talk to. 🙂

    Heather, I’ve now purchased three homes (bought and sold – I only own one house now). Every one of those purchases has been smoooooooooth. I cannot believe that sort of nonsense even goes on. I’ve always made sure I love the house I sign a contract for, but I have never been so in love that I wouldn’t walk out on that sort of crazy making behavior. I hope I’m never tested on that!


  • kellyfaboo

    That’s sort of sad. It’s obvious to me that Crazy Lady had a lot of attachment to the home and had crazy financial difficulties between her and her ex-husband.

    But Dooce, your crazy lady card beat the Crazy Lady who Believes Bobcats are her Friend’s crazy lady card. You should be proud.

    Hope this is the craziest your real estate adventures get.

  • Squeetthang

    WHEW! I was totally stressed just reading it.

    Can’t wait to see what you guys do with the place!

    (I am a paralegal and I really giggled about the paper clips and staples!)

  • Becky O

    You can’t see me, but right now I’m doing the Evan Almighty dance of joy for you. I would only do this for you as it is beneath me, but the occasion seems to warrant a dance of some sort.

    So…wahoo for you and your family – best of luck for a smooth move in!

  • TexasKatie

    Watch out – the lady might try to sue YOU now, for blogging about this. Hope she doesn’t know that you are DOOCE. I sort of actually feel bad for the woman – who was obviously going through a bad divorce. Not to say that extortion, as you put it, is acceptable, but I doubt she was trying to make your life miserable.

    Congratulations on the house, of course.

  • Lanie

    I miss the good old days, in which people didn’t feel the need to apologize for their success.

    As long as you’re not going out of your way to hurt anyone, your success has NOTHING to do with other people’s lack thereof. Remember that: NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.

    But I feel sorry for the previous homeowner woman. We don’t know why she’s in this situation, but it must be heartbreaking to have to leave your beautiful home, particularly when you’re the one made it that way. (Didn’t Heather say this lady was who did all the bathrooms etc., with the (allegedly) lovely tile and the (allegedly) lovely vanities?)

    And then she’s has to leave it, and needs her son to move her boxes out?

    I just HATE tragedy in people’s lives. HATE it.

    (Edited to add: Just noticed Kellyfaboo said much the same thing, above, probably among others. Haven’t read all the comments yet…)

  • Lurkalicious

    Hey Gigantic,

    I’m with you. I finished the three-part story with a bad taste in my mouth. And this comes from someone who recently discovered Dooce, has spent one too many nights going through her archives, laughing until I cried and then crying because it was so sad and touching. So, I’m a fan.

    And Gretchie, you’re right. What makes Heather’s writing so fantastic is that she does open herself up to the Internet, and openly shares parts of herself I would never dare to, maybe even to my closest friends.

    But it’s interesting for me – going through her archives and then reading her recent posts – because I’ve realized that whereas Dooce once used to write about her life as a woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister — now, she’s writing about her life as a professional blogger. And it’s just not as compelling. A victim of her own success?

    I imagine the legions will sing a chorus for me to suck it and tell me I’m jealous. That’s not the case at all. I think people should absolutely be proud of their accomplishments and savor their successes. But if they are going to go off on a three part saga hoping to elicit sympathy and commiseration over a situation in which the “crazy” adversary obviously had a lot more going on in her life, well, sorry. Not happening.

  • BethC

    Hooray! This is so great. I’m so happy for you guys.

    I also love the masthead. 🙂

  • freakydeak

    Congratulations Team Armstrong!
    I think a good sage smudge of the house is in order to remove any remaining bad mojo from that woman!


  • Krys72599

    Been there, done that, with the surprise ex’s lien against the house that you don’t find out about until you’re sitting there, on pins and needles, waiting to sign your name in blood on 57 pieces of paper, collect your keys, and go to YOUR.NEW.HOME.

    THAT’S when you find out that, no, the ex has found YET.ANOTHER.WAY.TO.SCREW.YOU.OVER even though your hubby and his ex have been divorced for 10 whole freakin’ years and she’s remarried and your child support is paying for her mortgage and the kids are asking you to buy them shampoo and shoes when they come up every other weekend…

    Oh, sorry, got carried away for a moment.

    Thank goodness it got all settled for us on the spot: an escrow account holding the $ until they checked it all out, then we got our money back… but we were in the house, and long story short, that was all that mattered.

    And we lived happily ever after…. As will you and Jon and Leta and Marlo and Chuck and Coco. Congrats, and can’t wait to see photos before and after, ’cause I’m sure the previous owner had exquisite taste…

  • Circe74

    Pictures nothing, I want to see the email Jon sent!

  • alex1s

    Would totally love to see the letter that your lawyer wrote.
    Congrats on your dream home!

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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