Did March and April even happen? I swear yesterday we were digging out from Snowzilla.
I’ve been a little absent lately, and I’m going to blame it on our newest endeavor: house hunting. A snapshot of things learned:
- I do not live an HGTV reality. There are no Property Brothers to save me.
- Sellers can be asshats and drive you to drink.
- Redfin/Zillow/Trulia are addicting as hell. I call them “Zinder”…you know, like Tinder, but for child brides who missed out on dating apps.
- A renovation project seems like the cool, 2o something year old thing to do, but eff that-I don’t have Joanna Gaines infallible hair or design aptitude. Or any contracting skills whatsoever.
- Location is almost more important than the house itself..let’s say about 80% importance.
- The other 20% includes proximity to a coffee shop…even though I make my own coffee. Why I’m fixated on this, I don’t know, but all I’m saying is they better have good drip.
- I demand an acceptable glass of wine and cheese appetizer within a 10-12 minute walk.
After living in a garage studio for 3 years, we took our house dreams to the next level at the beginning of March i.e. literally deciding one afternoon it’s time to buy a house. We went about it all wrong. Apparently, you’re not supposed to look at houses before figuring out how much you can afford etc. Whatever…yolo. The first one we saw tried to kill me- I fell down the stairs and slammed my head against a door frame. Nick thought he’d be caring for a vegetable as my tumble looked neck-breaking. Luckily, our realtor didn’t drop us and I only suffered a few bruises and humiliation. We got serious aka did some very adult things like getting pre approved for a loan and making a budget with limited alcohol and restaurant allowances. And by we, I mean my husband did it while I focused on finding houses with “wine caves” (say it kAHv like a tool) in the basement. I’ve watched A Year in Burgundy too many times. I’ll obviously need a place to put my collection once I come up.
When you have student loans and one spouse hasn’t figured out what they are doing with their life (yep that’s me), you may find the hip neighborhoods to be slightly outside your price range and need to look amongst the “fringe areas”- more aptly known as “up and coming”. Really, this just means you have to walk 12 minutes to get to coffee or wine or restaurants instead of 5…until a hipster comes in on a black stallion and plants an espresso bar on your block. An organic grocery store and wine bar should follow. If we’re lucky, a man bun will appear to sell me kombucha on the streets. #dreamz.
Hidden just northwest of Mount Vernon, lies Bolton Hill- haven for the wealthy and stomping ground of grungy art students. Gorgeous brick row homes, bistros, and tree-lined streets pepper a wonderland reminiscent of London or Boston or some city that’s not Baltimore. You guessed it: I can’t afford to live there. Hells no, those row homes are in the 400k’s. HOWEVER, right across the proverbial tracks of North Avenue, within a 12 minute walk, we find Reservoir Hill. SANCTUARY. It’s close to the park, has quiet streets, and most importantly, the peasants can afford. The best part? I think American Horror Story stole their type face from the Reservoir Hill sign. Some may say this is a bad omen. For me, a sign of destiny.
The house we thought was “IT” ended up falling through as the sellers couldn’t get their shit together and balked after verbally agreeing on a price, so that was devastating…After getting over the trauma, we decided to explore the rehab possibility, because wtf not. Unless you’re a trained contractor or serial killer on the prowl for your next primo BTK location, there’s nothing for you here. Like seriously I have SEEN some things. Satan’s basement for instance- complete with a functional prisoner closet and weird ass lawn chairs where someone was clearly having tea time with the Prince of Darkness every afternoon (OR AT 3AM THE WITCHING HOUR).
Any signs of the occult escaped the Redfin listing. My realtor anticipated a 50 grand bomb drop in this vampire’s lair alone. SWIPE LEFT.
Our desired neighborhood is both cursed and blessed by its proximity to the Maryland Institute College of Art. Crazy millennial art students run amok round Bolton Hill, yet attract those coffee shops with the good drip mentioned in my “must haves”. A select few take up residence in huge historic row homes, do drugs, and get evicted, leaving what looks like a scene from The Walking Dead, aka we are talking a serious zombie threat here. In the kitchen, breakfast seemed interrupted as eggs still remained on the counter and a frying pan on the stove.
Ingredients lay strewn about and a bowl rotting vegetables boasted a developed eco system. A lonely kombucha sat halfway drunk on top of the fridge, whose expired contents included organic almond milk and textured vegetable protein. They also paper machéd the damn walls and drank shitty sparkling wine. The free standing toilet in the basement added a nice touch, although I’m not sure if that counts as a half bath. Needless to say, this house went on the “no” list. SWIPE LEFT AGAIN LIKE A SINGLE LADY DRINKING WINE IN HER BED.
In the end, we found a beautifully renovated house on the same street as the one we originally wanted. This one has better wine cellar potential anyway. PSA: Soon I might be house poor and unable to afford wine… #thrilledtoannounce I’m now accepting your tax deductible donations.
Here’s a step by step guide to drinking your way from surfing Redfin to escrow. Don’t house hunt without proper access to wine. Spoiler alert: Many sparklings.
FOR DECIDING HELLZ YEAH WE CAN ACTUALLY BUY A HOUSE: But let’s not get too crazy yet, we still need a down payment. Enter NV Le Grand Courtage Rosé Brut. For $16-18, these bubbles will fuel your home buying delusions of grandeur as you sit on the couch with your partner, each swiping through Redfin, silently texting listings to each other. Marital bliss. Put the phone down and at least eat some cheese with your wine. Fresh red berries, citrus peels, and a dash of yeast round out the profile on this sparkly wine produced in Burgundy with grapes sourced from many of the finest regions in France. Dare I say, it tastes a little “champy” without the Champagne price tag.
FOR GETTING PRE APPROVED AND OTHER ADULTING: 2014 Domaine de la Denante Saint-Véran is real fancy and adultish. You can say to your friends still living the college lifestyle, “Mmmmm, sorry…can’t meet you at 11pm for shitty drinks at the loud bar because I just got pre approved for a loan and need to drink White Burgundy.” Made from 100% Chardonnay, you’ll get a flinty and white floral nose with a touch of butter on the palate. The peachy fruit cuts the slight oaky richness with a fantastic acid wash and mineral finish. LOVE ITTTTTTT. It’s a little on the pricey side, aka $20-$25, but hey you’re buying a house (or at least someone is telling you they’ll lend you money to do so). #huzzah
FOR HAVING YOUR SOUL CRUSHED BY BITCH-ASS SELLERS: All you can do when you lose is commence binge watching American Crime with copious bottles of Rhone varietal blends. The 2013 Chateau Puech-Haut Prestige Rouge gives lyfe after house death. A beautiful blend of Grenache and Syrah from the Languedoc, I can’t tell you how good this is for only around $17. Lavender, gravel, and black raspberries round out a deeply juicy, thirst quenching wine that will keep you coming back for more. Perfect for a charcuterie board and broken dreams.
FOR WANDERING ONTO THE SET OF HOSTEL AND OTHER REHABS: In the blind tasting group I attend with other wine nerds, we thought the 2010 Torre de Oña Rioja Reserva was California Cabernet Sauvignon or some other New World red…FAIL AND SHAME. When you know it’s Rioja, it tastes like Rioja, and could never be anything else. It’s like thinking a house can be renovated easily and then going into the insane basement and realizing NOPE ABORT ABORT ABORT DOES NOT COMPUTE. Unlike a scary house, this wine is delicious and incredibly balanced with no structural issues or need for exorcism. Accompanied by notes of dill, blackberries, mocha, and bakery kitchen, you can rely on this spicy Spanish jewel to revive your spirit animals.
FOR PLAYING THE “OFFER” GAME: CAVAAAAAAAA!!!! So, nothing specific for this category…just Cava. We sat on my parents’ deck sipping (read: guzzling) the stuff while scheming over an offer with our realtor. Some delectable Cava Rosado from La Cuchara, our favorite restaurant in Hampden, filled the void while waiting for the sellers to respond. It’s refreshing and fun yet structured and slightly erudite aka you’re adult enough to counter offer with confidence. You know the deal: Champagne method, has a little brioche and green apple, and tastes like winning. No Freixenet, you serfs.
FOR FINDING YOUR CHATEAU WITH PROPER WINE CELLAR AND KITCHEN OF THE GODS: Under contract? We must celebrate with 2012 Argyle Vintage Brut. Oregon is generally amazeballs and 2012 lauds as a fantastic year in the Willamette Valley. Again, we’re not breaking the bank here with a price point of $19-ish. A blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, the baked apple aromas, ginger spices, and mouth-watering acidity make it worth buying two bottles. Now, put your phone down and delete Redfin.
We’ll save the real Champagne until the first night in the new house.