Realtor and PRC board member Katie Witry was recently awarded quite the local honor: Witry was named Member of the Year by the Women’s Council of Realtors, New Orleans Metropolitan chapter. She can add the accolade to a long list of honors she has already accrued in less than 15 years as a Realtor, including being voted by Gambit readers as one of the top three Best Realtors in the Metro Area 2011 to 2016, and being named one of the 20 Top Real Estate Producers by New Orleans CityBusiness in 2016, Top 25 from 2007 to 2015.
She started the popular Witry Collective, a collaboration with three colleagues, which operates under Gardner Realtors and represents both buyers and sellers. “Business is constant,” she said. “I started the collective because I want our clients to feel like they’re supported throughout the process.”
The Chicago area-native came to New Orleans to study at Loyola University, and fell in love with the city, buying homes in the Irish Channel and later in the Garden District. Upon graduating, Witry began working with Catholic Charities to help resettle refugees who had arrived in New Orleans. Often, she was the first person they met in the United States. She would help them settle into their new living quarters, find service providers, and help them connect with people and organizations in the community. Though the work was fulfilling, Witry was intrigued by real estate: her neighbor was a Realtor, and offered her the opportunity to work with him. After five years with Catholic Charities, Witry transitioned into real estate, just trying it out part-time at first. “By the nine month mark, I decided to go full-time,” she said, officially partnering with her neighbor.
A year and a half later, however, Hurricane Katrina hit, and her partner wasn’t interested in continuing the work in the post-storm market. So Witry continued on her path, but spent many months after the storm sitting at Gardner’s front desk, fielding phone calls and visits from bewildered people trying to figure out how to obtain housing in the wake of catastrophe. It taught her a lot, both about the city’s terrain and about the emotional nature of residential real estate.
She realized how much she enjoyed helping people through the sale or purchase of a property — it’s often a charged time, perhaps triggered by a divorce or a death, or, on the happier side, a marriage or growing family. Despite her established success, Witry has “no interest” in transitioning from Realtor to broker. “What I love is serving my clients,” she said.
She describes real estate as a “seven-day-a-week, 12-to-15-hour-a-day job” — but she still manages to find time to volunteer. Witry has developed a 12-hour curriculum on buying and selling “smart” for the Women’s Council of Realtors, and teaches the course regularly. “I now have the opportunity to help other people be better Realtors — and that is really fulfilling,” she said. The course focuses largely on the historic neighborhoods of New Orleans. “We’re just stewards of the incredible historic architecture of this city,” she said. Many of her clients love new construction too, however, and she said she is happy that post-Katrina New Orleans has residences to fit all tastes and types.
Before joining PRC’s board in 2016, Witry had been a volunteer at the organization for many years, chairing events and leading workshops. She to this day develops curriculum for PRC and helps with educational programming. She first came to PRC after purchasing a fixer-upper in the Irish Channel in 1999, and being referred to the organization by her Realtor. “Then-Operation Comeback Director James Perry sat down with me,” and helped equip her for her renovation project, she said. She was very encouraged; now, helping people buy their own historic properties, and have the confidence to renovate and care for their homes has become one of her true passions. Thanks for all you do, Katie.