Ah, home ownership in The District, the dream of everyone who seeks to establish their home base in Francis Underwood’s playground. From the 22 year old skinny jean wearing 10th Street hipster, to the 28 year old Congressional Legislative Director, we all want to solidify our DC cred by paying way too much money for way too little square footage.
Enter the expert on DC real estate Eric Wohlschlegel. Living in the District for the past 19 years and buying his DC place only three years after arriving, now owning several houses in DC, Eric wanted to share his knowledge with the public. Eric founded the popular DC real estate website TheCribline.com about two years ago, and recently launched a Charlotte, NC based version of The Cribline, his online empire is growing as fast as his real estate portfolio.
Since real estate in DC is almost as big of a deal as the next 14th Street restaurant to open, I wanted to sit down with Eric and get his thoughts on the intersection between District dining and the local real estate market.
Running a website myself that caters to a fairly niche market, I wanted to know why he decided to start TheCribline.com. I mean, I guess there are just as many real estate blogs as food blogs. He said, “I was a big fan of the show MTV Cribs,” I mean, who wasn’t, come on? “And after I bought my first house after living here for three years, people started to wonder how I did it. I mean, I made absolutely nothing, but I saved, ate on the cheap, and ended up with a down payment for a house on the Hill. So people were then starting to take note, and wanted to do what I did.” Eating on the cheap sounds terrible, I’d have no content! Also, if this was a tweet, #FirstWorldProblems would be appropriate.
The first blog post on TheCribline.com’s DC site went live on May 29th two years ago, and Eric’s been cranking it out ever since. He says DC is the perfect setting for something like his site, “Because you get a pool of some of the most talented people from around the country who are real dynamic and into lots of things.” You can definitely add lots of hungover Hill staff and bored lobbyists who can only check out so many Paul Ryan memes before they get bored.
Housing porn is often as good as food porn: oohhh yeah, look at those beveled edges on those sick Nantucket White cabinets. And that cleft foot vintage soaking tub! Damn that’s good! So yeah, real estate blog, I’m sold. But are their other similarities? Meaning, are their food factors that influence the real estate markets? Does being next to large amounts of food trash create problems? Obviously having a market nearby might be nice. Eric says yes, food factors do influence the real estate market.
“Well, let’s start with the odor and waste concerns” he begins. “Twenty years ago it was very unpredictable when the City would pick up the garbage. Now that’s not a problem, so I think we’re beyond that, even with the restaurant trash.” Whew, that’s good to know. Thank you DC government. “Personally, I like to walk to a restaurant. I recommend people invest and look at where they can walk to restaurants, grocery stores, even if it’s a corner store.”
I asked Eric if it matters which grocery store is close to you. I mean, does it really make a difference? “Absolutely,” he says without hesitation. “Whole Foods hands down wins in that department. Look at Logan Circle for example. The prices in that area over doubled in value since the Whole Foods came in.” Not to mention the entire area in general cleaned up just after that magical beacon of om nom consumerism came to town.
If Eric could live near any restaurant in DC, he’s in luck, he already does. He loves French cuisine and live, “within stumbling distance” from Bistro Cacao on Capitol Hill. He says French cuisine has “sauces that are unmatched by anyone.” I agree. We also agree on another great staple for French cuisine in DC, La Chaumiere, which thankfully I do live by.
I am also thankful I live in 2013 DC which boasts a vibrant food scene, which was not always the case. In fact, Eric said when he first came to DC, there was none. “It didn’t really exist,” he says. “You had Cap Grille, 1789, a few spots in Georgetown, and that’s about it. You had the Tune Inn, which is still there,” he added, and yes, yes it is, and we are so, so happy. “But the scene, there wasn’t really a scene. But now, just on the Hill alone, I think there are like five new restaurants coming online in the next month, and that’s shocking.”
Does this help the real estate markets in DC I ask. “Absolutely! Because what you are doing is you’re building communities, not just places where you go to bed, they are places where you live, you thrive, you socialize, and you’re part of a community.” Ah yes, mom and apple pie too.
Having worked with Eric for the past three years, I was really glad to have a chance to pick his brain about a few things I was unfamiliar with about the real estate sector. As for Eric, he lunches at Brasserie Beck, and his happy hours vary. “It just depends,” he says. “The Oval Room is good because it’s still a spot that’s really low key and you can still have a conversation. PJ Clarkes of course is a good one. Marvin rooftop is another spot.”
Having fully solved the DC real estate and food connections, we end with the Feasting Famously Fast Five where Eric blurts out the first thing that comes to mind as I ramble off a series of random words.
Capitol Hill – Stanton Park
Barracks Row – Matchbox
French food – La Chaumiere
Congress – no comment
Lobbyists – [chuckles]
Hey, I’m the foodie here, you didn’t even mention one thing real estate related. Maybe all the food talk just made Eric hungry, and let’s be honest, I was ready to go after he laughed at lobbyists.