Suzanne Researched This: Part 2

I don’t know about anybody else here, but I for one am a total sucker for Dr. Laura. Thanks to a company department picnic, on my way home from work today I had a rare opportunity to partake in this particular indulgence, and I heard an interesting call. Here’s an excerpt:

If you can’t listen to the audio, here’s a partial transcript:

Ryan: When my husband comes home from work today—if he comes home, ’cause he’s calling and saying he’s not going to come home—I’m wondering how, or what to say to him. He had like, a flip out last night that continued into the morning. I actually had to leave with our kids because he was actually breaking things. This is not typical behavior of his at all, and I’m just really nervous—

Dr. Laura: Was he drinking?

Ryan: He doesn’t drink, no.

Dr. Laura: What do you think caused this big flip out?

Ryan: Well, we bought a house two years ago, and ever since we bought the house it’s always been “we bought it because you wanted it,” and every time we have financial struggles, it’s my fault because we bought a house that he said we shouldn’t buy, so… that’s… I guess the stresses of the house are getting more intense because our interest is going up so it’s been sort of like the past month I’ve been hearing him talk a lot about that.

Dr. Laura: Well, wait a minute. You mean, you bought a house when you really couldn’t afford it?

Ryan: There you go. [nervous laugh] Exactly. Exactly. And I kinda pushed to buy the house because I thought we could, even though I really should have listened to him…

You should take the time to listen to the entire three-and-a-half minute call (player below). Due to the format of Dr. Laura’s show, we don’t know where Ryan was calling from, but thanks to your friendly neighborhood housing bubble, situations like this are playing out across the country with increasing frequency.

For anyone that is confused about the title of the post, be sure to check out the original “Suzanne Researched This” commercial:

5.00 avg. rating (90% score) - 1 vote

About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market. Tim also hosts the weekly improv comedy sci-fi podcast Dispatches from the Multiverse.


  1. 1
    Alan says:

    That is really sad.

  2. 2
    new_dude says:

    Went home shopping this evening, came back thinking should we stretch a little bit for that fancy one. Listened to this posting. Changed our minds. We are happy again.

  3. 3
    Ken says:


    hahaha, how funny, cause that don’t own it.

  4. 4
    Schaum says:

    Yahoo Finance has a nice little article this morning called “Anxious Builders Pile on Incentives” with the following excerpt:

    “In markets such as Denver and Seattle, builders are increasingly willing to pay agents substantially larger commissions — as much as 4% of the home’s sales price, up from 1.5% or less — to help unload inventory homes. In turn, some agents are returning some of that money to builders to lower the home price to help buyers qualify for the house.

    “Don’t be afraid to negotiate for as much as you can these days,” says Judy King, a Seattle-area Re/Max agent. “There’s a lot of flexibility in a market like this.””


  5. 5
    patient says:

    I think this is yet another wake-up call for overextendend borrowers. Get rid of your financial and mental torture (home + mortgage ) as soon as you can and start rebuilding a healthy life. Do not try to hang on by risky re-financing it will most likely just extend the pain and delay the recovery to a more pleasant living within your means. The message to politicians and lenders should be to not facilitate extended pain by “bailout” type of actions. The drive to keep people in their homes will often equal to keep people in a very stressful situation and delay the journey to a healthy situation.

  6. 6
    rose-colored-coolaid says:

    I agree. My gut reaction is ‘those poor people’, but my second reaction is ‘wouldn’t they actually be happier foreclosed on?’ Even better, if they can sell out for even 0% profit they will be happier.

    Seems like these kinds of stories fly in the face of cheerleader think that everyone is much happier borrowing their own home than paying rent. I couldn’t find the link, but there was a survey done recently in Great Britain that found people preferred affordable housing over owning. If someone knows this article and can link it, that would be great.

  7. 7
    deejayoh says:

    Tim –
    I think you’re gonna become a housing bubble celebrity for capturing that little gem.

    I am sure you’ll hit HousingPanic soon

  8. 8
    mike2 says:

    It’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye.

    All I’m taking from this story is that they should have bought a place that came with a pink pony. That is the foundation for a solid marriage.

  9. 9
    Nude says:

    someone please explain “pink pony” to me

  10. 10
    redmondjp says:

    See this post on the forum here.

    They are as good of an explanation for why housing prices are so high as any, as in “you bet this 1970s 3/2 rambler was worth $489K, because there are pink ponies in the back yard.”

  11. 11
    Eleua says:


    That post is a work of art.

    Every indebted married couple in the nation should read this post. The divorce rate in this country is going to jump because of all the “Suzannes” out there.

    I’d like to put some snarky comment in here, but the reality is just too sad for the millions of “Ryan’s” out there.

    Great post, Tim. Great post.

  12. 12
    Nude says:

    thanks redmondjp, it was beginning to keep me up at night

  13. 13
    biliruben says:

    Everyone is/was susceptible.

    My wife (highly educated professional; probably more highly than is good for her) and I were discussing housing driving around near a 2000 sq ft house we put a bid on 3 years ago but didn’t win. The bid was a bit more than we could afford at the time as she was still in school, so I was actually relived. She turned to me with true concern on her face saying “I’m worried we’ll never be able to own a house that size now! We should have made that extra bid.”.

    Now I don’t usually discuss housing issues with her because she isn’t really interested, but I my jaw just dropped.

    I think I need to start talking housing with her!

  14. 14
    deejayoh says:

    It’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye.

    Then it’s one-eyed fun…

  15. 15
    patient says:

    On sub-concious level the primal instincts are still alive. For women nesting is probably a stronger instinct than the ability to provide since they instinctively rely on their men to do that…it could explain why even the most intelligent women can sometimes act irriational in this area.

  16. 16
    Greg Kirkos says:

    Great post. I’m sure there are many in this situation, or quickly getting to it.

    That YouTube bit is great. Poor guy.

  17. 17
    Chris says:

    Nude, you know you are a true bubble-believer when thoughts of pink ponies keep you up at night.

    Soon enough the cheerleaders will be dreaming about them and wondering where they all went.

  18. 18
    bill says:

    women are irrational. it’s the genes.

  19. 19
    Re Max says:

    I wish somebody would post a video of the couple as the wife is confronted by the husband when he returns. A close up would be needed to the guy’s face when he goes: You made me buy a house we can’t afford. Where is Suzanne now, [censored]? What? What?

  20. 20
    The Tim says:

    Sorry, I try to keep a policy of not editing or removing comments, but Re Max’s comment was just too over-the-top rude for me to let it post as-written.

  21. 21
    Ubersalad says:


    3 years ago as in 2004? You could have easily sold it in 2006 and made substantial profit while avoiding capital gain.

    I think most of you are almost thinking that you should NEVER buy a house.

  22. 22
    matthew says:


    Biliruben does own a house. Not everyone here rents.

  23. 23
    biliruben says:

    Yeah – we just bought a bit cheaper one that needed less work.

    We’ll get a bigger one when the market turns rational again. I’m targeting 2010.

  24. 24
    Ubersalad says:

    my mistake for not keeping tab on everyone. it just sounded as if he didn’t buy any.

  25. 25
    MacAttack says:

    NO,NOT everyone is susceptible. Though my first wife did browbeat me into debt, my second/final wife has a great head on her shoulders, and we are well on the way to OWNING it. I went through that once… believe me, you WON’T do it again. Your foot will go DOWN.

  26. 26
    softwarengineer says:


    I’m not the techno geek type with encryption of the encryption to use today’s high speed internet (its all wireless and full of security holes, even DSL) somewhat safely.

    I’m in to security only, so use a dial up wire to my phone, but you can’t read my computer from blocks [or even miles] away because its signal is wireless.

    I don’t even use blackberries for the same reason and God Forbid you get on to one of those WIFI sites where possibly the guy in the back room server is getting all your passwords and credit card numbers….

    I do use CDs for downloading fast inside my computer, they’re safe.

  27. 27
    crashcadia says:

    Thanks Tim,
    You made my day.

    Schadenfreude….. pure, crips, Schadenfreude.

    Economic Darwinism at its finest

  28. 28
    whatsit2ya says:

    Bunch of sad individuals basking in other peoples’ misery…

  29. 29
    tlw says:

    The misery just started or merely started in Seattle, but yeah, I’m feeling the joy.

    What is it to you? Not raking in the easy 6% any more, parasitic real-wh*re?

  30. 30
    B says:

    I find the (thankfully, only really from one commenter) “women are irrational” response deeply ignorant and off-putting. (Someone’s been hanging around the wrong type of woman, I guess.) You have no idea how many women read, but don’t post to, this blog, and are patiently stockpiling a down payment to pick up a house cheap from some Suzanne’s train wreck.

    The nesting instinct is real, just as the urge to “own” some property is. They are essentially one and the same. Successful RE/mortgage sharks have learned how to lever that impulse into a “buy at all costs” behavior.

    That’s why they call it an economy. One person makes an idiotic decision, resulting in having to sell underwater during a later correction. The one who buys after the decline is not malicious. It just means he understood math better than the first chump. It’s not cruelty, it’s reality. (However, I’d reserve my most pure contempt for flippers and RE agents, rather than the ignorant schmoes they targeted)

  31. 31
    synthetik says:


    I’ve sent that to as well as

    Awesome post and sweet vindication for those of us who have been watching this for many years.


  32. 32
    hwy50ina49dodge says:

    You know, I’m just trying to visualizing that radio conversation…Dr. Laura and the caller, discussing the stress out of the husband…while they are both holding cups of Starbucks Latte’s in their hands.

  33. 33
    mike2 says:

    Bunch of sad individuals basking in other peoples’ misery…

    No, this is watching people take huge risks and getting upset at the predictable consequences.

    Surely you had a buddy in highschool that was always looking for a thrill. In my case, it was a friend that liked to jump off high structures. When he inevitably screwed up a stunt and ended up with multiple compound fractures I could empathize with the pain of all those broken bones. But he, and everyone else knew that what he was doing was likely to have catastrophic consequences at some point.

    What this couple did is no different. Instead of a physical risk, the one they took was financial and emotional.

    Sure, it’s unfortunate that their marriage is falling apart, but this is an easily forseeable consequence of the decisions they made.

    Let’s not forget that this couple did get the benefit of living in their dream house for 2 full years – meanwhile, some other couple that was determined to live within their means didn’t get this opportunity.

  34. 34
    wreckingbull says:


    Actually I am quite happy, not sad. I am happy that a home will again be a place to hang one’s hat, raise one’s family, and serve as a solid financial anchor. (not a lottery ticket)

    What is sad is the stupidity that has transpired in the last 5 years. I don’t feel sorry for those who lose their shirts in Las Vegas, nor do I feel sorry for those whose greed led them to purchase far more home than they could afford. Last I checked, one had to be an ADULT and of SOUND MIND in order to enter into a legal agreement.

    If you want sad, this world has plenty of examples of people getting victimized through no action of their own.

  35. 35
    Unsympathetic says:

    They made a stupid decision, and now will have to suffer greatly for it. Blah blah “I want!” — enjoy foreclosure, self-centered impractical stupid girl.

    The only sad part of this is that the guy in this story will suffer twice – once because he wasn’t being supportive of her desires, and the second time because it’s obviously his fault alone that the house was foreclosed on.

    This is what happens when you don’t include “good with money” in deciding to upgrade the girl from dating to marrying status.

  36. 36
    jcsc says:

    Neurological research has demonstrated that men and women are equally irrational. They make emotional decisions and then rationalize them after the fact. The research on this issue is fascinating.

  37. 37
    are they crazy says:

    It’s not just women – I had the opposite problem – HE insisted we had to buy a house – it was his life’s dream (after 4 years together when he had never mentioned it). Then in 2005 when I said we better get out he wouldn’t do it and kept taking money out. Put house on market in June 06 and short sold it in May 07. And we’re middle aged no kids.

  38. 38
    explorer says:

    “Let’s not forget that this couple did get the benefit of living in their dream house for 2 full years – meanwhile, some other couple that was determined to live within their means didn’t get this opportunity.”

    That also applies to those couples and singles of more modest/median incomes and first time buyers, who thought about a condo, but could never catch up. The REIC declaring condos “the new starter homes,” was a deliberate psych ploy, and the contribution to rising prices should not be discounted.

    The ability to run the basic financial numbers and accepting them, and allowing for contingencies, vs. the wishfull thinking that “it will work out eventually,” has been many a person’s financial downfall.

    Their are calculated risks, and there is denial of reality.

  39. 39
    Diana says:

    “This is what happens when you don’t include “good with money” in deciding to upgrade the girl from dating to marrying status.”


    I apply that same standard to the men I date.

    Financial ignorance has nothing to do with gender.

  40. 40
    DaveO says:

    “whatsit2ya said, on August 23rd, 2007 at 11:44 pm

    Bunch of sad individuals basking in other peoples’ misery…”

    Right, so it was ok when owners were gaining hundreds of thousands of dollars for doing practically nothing and then looking down on the lowly non-owners. Now the tide has turned. What goes around comes around. Ever heard of karma?

  41. 41
    Ryan says:

    Funny and sad. Can’t wait for the headlines “Divorce rate spike due to foreclosures” If that doens’t begin the bleeding heart campaign in the government to bail out the Jones and save the moral fabric of America nothing will.

  42. 42
    B says:

    This is a little overly cynical, but I have to bring up the possibility going to look at a ‘distressed sale’ house and leaving not only with a great deal on a house, but also hot date with the flipper’s ‘distressed’ ex-spouse?

    OK, that’s a little much.

  43. 43
    Skip Smith says:

    “Own it! Own it!”

    “But Dr. Laura, isn’t that attitude what got us into trouble in the first place?”

  44. 44
    dagg says:

    brace yourself folks, we are in for a big one.

  45. 45
    If I was God... says: along with this post would be the standard disclosures every young man would have to read and initial before signing the dotted line and saying “I DO”.

  46. 46

    get this all drones — marriage turns lovers into relatives and who in their right mind would have a kid in 07. if the subject isnt about overpopulation not worth discussing. the divorce rate which is now 60% plus- 35% are miserable and stay and 5% are cool .the new official divorce rate will go to 90%. this sham is over.ozzie and harriet left the building in 1958! what dont you get?? i guess its- stupid is stupid does.evidence in!

  47. 47
    Colonel Angus says:

    B said,

    on August 26th, 2007 at 9:35 am

    This is a little overly cynical, but I have to bring up the possibility going to look at a ‘distressed sale’ house and leaving not only with a great deal on a house, but also hot date with the flipper’s ‘distressed’ ex-spouse?

    OK, that’s a little much.

    Awesome. It could be a new show on HGTV. How about they call it “Sell My House and Spouse” They can make upgrades to both properties to hook the buyer.

  48. 48
    biliruben says:

    …hook the buyer?

    …buy the ho…

  49. 49
    Chris G says:

    Shame on him for not having the nerve to say NO.

    A lot of people these days are so brainwashed that they feel like they should be entitled to everything and they have to keep up with the Joneses.

    They’ll spend themselves into oblivion in order to keep up with the Joneses. Meanwhile, the Smith’s who live at or below their means, spend money smartly, and appear to be average, probably have a bank account that would make their heads spin.

  50. 50
    Jackson says:

    This is of course some of the bitter fruit of today’s Oprahist emasculation campaign.

  51. 51
    carrie says:

    A few years ago we were to buy a home in the 1 mill + range on a stated income being pushed by realtors and new home sellers, well i sat in shock because i though we made that much and i started to not trust my husband and asked him where he is hiding all that income (lol), it caused a big fight and we never did buy that home, thank god because we are still renting at $2000 a month and that home is worth alot less now and going down. fighting is not always a bad thing, and honesty is always the best policy

  52. 52
    Drew says:

    This tells how the prices were able to go throw the.

    As for the added stress and broken Marriages , Hear is some thing to think about for the scum bag Realtor and loan officer who pushed some couple in to an over priced home.

    As the loan reset and drive people in to the ground over a long time, some women just may turn away from this now unhappy marriage. After some time there will be some guys who has lost every thing over a year or two , his wife now takes off, the DA is now on his case for child support. And the house is now gone taken by the bank. I would bet that for some reason he just may not being doing that great of a job at work and is now fired.

    What is a guy to do?? I sure a few will pick up a bottle of booze and just might think back for where this mess all started. He may come to the realization that there is nothing els to losses since it has all been sucked out of him by a bunch Vampires And shoot them right in the face right in there office.

    Think about it.

  53. 53
    feminist hater says:

    women are not only irrational, they are down right stupid and have no control of their emotions. Ony a MADMAN would marry in the USA today.

  54. 54
    MG says:

    We will be hearing more of this as time goes by and resets occur.

    They bought more home than they could afford, she (Ryan) admits that she was the driver. She should go back to work and put the kids in care of a helpful relative or friend and accept that life will be different so they can stay current with the mortgage or at least improve their finances. Read Dave Ramsey’s books. It can be done. This couple can sell things; they can realistically price the house to sell to someone else.

    Men: stop choosing women based solely on their looks. Choose a partner based on how she handles money and debt she’s in BEFORE you get serious (like within the first month of the relationship).

  55. 55
    Jennifer says:

    I’ve been reading housing bubble blogs since my husband and I moved to California three years ago. This is the first time I’ve posted in part because I find so many of these sites to be unfriendly (that’s putting it mildly) towards women. There is plenty of evidence on these sites that sexism is alive and well. A little less generalizing about women and men would be appreciated.

    By the way, both my husband and I made the decision to rent.

  56. 56
    The Tim says:

    Hi Jennifer,

    Thanks for posting. I just want to point out that in keeping with the spirit of free speech, 99.99% of the comments posted to Seattle Bubble are unedited by me, the editor of the site. All comments are owned by their respective authors, and definitely do not necessarily represent the official views of this blog of any of its primary contributors.

    That being said, I agree with your comment. The blatant anti-woman comments are over the top and unnecessary. I didn’t post this as a diatribe against women, but against the general psychology of the bubble that has gotten people into trouble like this.

  57. 57
  58. 58
    Jennifer says:

    Tim, thanks for responding. I should clarify that I did not find the initial posting offensive. Certainly maintaining marital harmony is a great reason for living within one’s means. It was just some of the comments that followed that really made my stomach churn.

  59. 59
    Art says:

    Per Suzanne I call the sneering lunge “The Venom Strike”. Captured using a special slow motion camera you can actually see fangs.

    I guess I didn’t do things well; no McMansion for me.

    My wife and I are in our late 60’s and just yesterday we were discussing how things have changed in 40 years.

    The first home loan we had required a 20% down payment. We scrimped and saved for it but it became a reality in 5 years.

    Our lending institution wouldn’t allow us to obtain a mortgage for more then 3 years my take home pay. Since my wife didn’t work (she didn’t have a car as she stayed home with the children she loved) we felt it a huge step to go for a $36,000 mortgage. It’s a nice house, in a pretty nice neighborhood and though the mortgage was 30 years after 10 the payments seemed like peanuts. We never sweated making a house payment as it was small enough to be made with a proceeds of a part time job if required.

    We paid the house off when I was in my early 50’s. Life has been good. My adivce is to think simple. Examine each thing and determine if you really need it or not.

  60. 60
    James says:

    Quite honestly, this housing bubble can’t unravel fast enough for me. The sooner prices fall to reasonable levels (as compared to rent), the sooner those of us who are young and starting out in life can get settled.

  61. 61
    carrie says:

    feminist hater said,

    on September 4th, 2007 at 7:10 am

    women are not only irrational, they are down right stupid and have no control of their emotions. Ony a MADMAN would marry in the USA today.


    feminist hater you sound like a pissed off realtor that lost a deal because of a smart woman, or a man that simple cant get a woman because you are too stupid and have nothing to offer an woman on earth let alone the USA.

  62. 62
    carrie says:

    amen to that james

  63. 63
    carrie says:

    not all women are irrational, my husband was ready to buy me that overpriced home, but i stopped him and started to read up on those stated income loans, and this houseing bubble. This is the reason we are still renting for $2000 and not $7000. Now i will have that same house or one even nicer for a fraction of that price. Its just a matter of time folks, feels like a holiday!

  64. 64
    carrie says:

    Oh I must clarify myself before the comments start to flow and I look like a weak female, my husband and I both decided to not buy that home, I cant help it if he wants to make me happy, and I like to treat him like my husband and not a room mate like some of you treat your spouses. if you all start to have respect for the differences in the opposite sex instead of insulting character which seems common about each gender you might just give up the fight of change and accept each for who we are. have a nice day

  65. 65
    blackjack21 says:

    reap what you sow

  66. 66

    I think I smell divorce.

  67. 67
    Steve says:

    I hated that commercial from the first time I saw it. Jebus, what a harpy.

  68. 68

    […] A now-famous line uttered in a Century 21 commercial titled “The Debate” that has become the poster-child of the housing bubble. See the commercial on YouTube here. Also be sure to check out this related post. […]

  69. 69

    […] A Visit from Hank Paulson ‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the land Not a creature was stirring, not even Suzanne; […]

  70. 70

    […] words like research enough, maybe people will believe our total BS? I mean seriously guys, Suzanne reasearched this.In light of the current REALTOR-aided media panic blitz over today’s rising rates, I thought […]

  71. 71
    David says:

    Hi Tim,

    I am in the UK and we are currently going through an economic recession like most of the western world. I have already lost my permanent job, and I am in and out of temporary work at the moment. My wife’s job is potentially on the line because her employer is going through a “re-structuring” process. And guess what! We have just bought a new, bigger house.

    So we have gone from a small house that we owned completely with no mortgage, to a bigger house with a fairly substantial mortgage with unreliable income! All because she wanted a bigger house and could not wait any longer.

    Will we keep it? Who knows! Time will tell!

  72. 72

    […] divorce me if I don’t buy a house. FALSE. She will divorce you if you do buy a house and go bankrupt trying to pay the mortgage. She won’t divorce you if you rent a much nicer place than you can […]

  73. 73
    Eleua says:

    I’m not a big Dr. Laura fan, but this one is a home run. I totally forgot about “Suzanne,” but you can bet I will be entirely insufferable with this at every opportunity.

    What a joke of a time that was. Just think, the supposedly “most advanced” society in world history (cough, cough, ack, gasp, gag, barf, hurl, slit-my-writs, blow-my-head-off-with-1-10#-block-of-C4), thought it could become perpetually wealthy simply by living in homes.

    Even better? We think taking on more debt will solve the problem and that nobody has to take the loss. Good Lord Almighty, we are a stupid people.

    Our grandchildren will curse us.

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