In partnership withNational Association of REALTORS®

A New Orleans Home Full of Historical Charm and Murals for Days

published Sep 9, 2020
Credit: Jacqueline Marque
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"Our living room is a place we spend a lot of time hanging out. The couch has been a favorite vintage find that we’ve had for several years, brought with us from Portland."

Name: Liz Kamarul and Tim Kamarul
Location: Central City, New Orleans, LA
Size: 1,600 square feet
Type of home: Double shotgun converted to a single-family home
Years lived in: a little over one year

Artist and interior stylist Liz Kamarul and her husband, Tim, fell in love with New Orleans on a road trip from the West Coast: The stunning architecture, quirky charm, and friendly people inspired the couple to sell their Portland, OR, home and move to the Crescent City. Liz had visions of a historic double shotgun-style home that the couple could custom renovate, complete with Liz’s show-stopping murals. This unique style results from knocking down the shared center wall between two narrow shotgun homes to create one big single-family living space—with two front doors! It’s quintessential New Orleans. But Liz and Tim didn’t realize just how much their new city’s quirkiness extended to the real estate market.

Credit: Jacqueline Marque

Enter Ninh Tran, a real estate agent and REALTOR®, a member of the National Association of REALTORS®. An expert in the New Orleans market, Ninh loves his city’s unique character as much as Liz and Tim do. But he also knew firsthand the home-buying nuances that come with New Orleans real estate—including the less charming aspects of historical properties that could stymie some buyers, especially those new to New Orleans life.

Credit: Jacqueline Marque

A City Full of Quirks

“New Orleans is an especially unique market,” Ninh says. New buyers need to expect issues like flooding, termites, and hurricanes, in addition to more common historic home issues like poor insulation and old windows. Most of New Orleans is below sea level, so houses can have settling issues, and a generous amount of leaning is considered normal. “It can be shock when someone new to New Orleans hears that floors that slope up to four inches are OK,” Ninh says.

Credit: Jacqueline Marque

With two graduate degrees in psychology and a deep love for his city, Ninh is a pro at helping clients navigate their original visions in the reality of the market. “Liz and Tim went through a complicated journey,” Ninh says. “Tim can fix anything, and Liz can visualize anything in a way many clients can’t. But the pace to change things in New Orleans is very slow. It’s a lot to take on a big project in a New Orleans house.” When one such project would have added as much as $50,000 to the sale price, they had to walk away.

“Ninh gave us the reality check we needed,” Liz says. The couple felt an immediate kinship with Ninh, and because Ninh belongs to the National Association of REALTORS®, they could also trust that he would be a true ally as well as a reliable expert. As a REALTOR®, Ninh is bound by a strict Code of Ethics to put his clients’ best interests first. Ninh helped Liz and Tim realize that, with the cost of renovations, fixer-uppers would be out of their budget. They put in three offers that all fell through, but Ninh encouraged them not to give up and kept working to find the right listing for them. Then he found a double shotgun home in Central City for sale by owner. After so much time spent getting to know Liz and Tim, Ninh knew it was exactly what they were looking for.

Credit: Jacqueline Marque

“Tim was vibrating with excitement when we viewed it,” Liz says. “The renovation was done so well yet it retained the old charm. The seller was so proud. He kept all the doors closed so that he could see our reactions as he presented each room.” Liz was especially smitten with the guest bathroom’s beautiful floor-to-ceiling tile, the fireplace in the middle of the kitchen and dining room, and the huge pocket doors. And there were still plenty of opportunities for design projects—like Liz’s amazing murals. From bold color-blocking in the living room to crisp grids in the bedroom, Liz has a gift for adding just what color and shape a room needs to really pop.

Homes for sale by owner bring a unique challenge, Ninh says. An owner who loves their house might not always price realistically. Ninh built a relationship with the seller as well, and was able to negotiate a more reasonable closing price. When Liz and Tim put in their offer, Ninh also appealed to the seller about the couple’s home-buying challenges.

Credit: Jacqueline Marque

Now, Liz and Tim are continuing to make the house their own, with thrifted finds, hand-painted murals, and personal touches. “It’s perfect for us in every way,” Liz says. And they’re loving life in New Orleans, which Liz says has a “special energy that can’t be described.”

“It’s a super vibrant city,” Ninh says. “Everyone enjoys life in New Orleans, and they want their home to be a part of their life. It’s why Liz and Tim wanted to move here.”

Credit: Jacqueline Marque

Liz and Tim’s Survey:

  • My style: Our home has a very classic New Orleans style with old charm, tall ceilings, and an infusion of quirkiness with our decor.
  • Favorite element: The tall ceilings are incredible and something that would be very hard to give up if we ever moved.
  • Biggest challenge: The exterior maintenance has been the biggest challenge. There is a lot of upkeep to make sure it can withstand the elements.
  • Best thing about being a homeowner: The fact that we can do whatever we want without having to ask for permission.
  • Advice for someone buying their first home: Be patient during the homebuying process. It will be an emotional experience but the right home is out there.
  • What was one frustration in your home buying process, and how did you overcome it? Having our offers rejected several times was hard to deal with but reminding ourselves that everything happens for a reason helped us to continue forward.
  • Favorite part of Central City: We love how close we are to everything in our location. We can reach any part of the city in 20 minutes.
  • Why did you choose your neighborhood? We chose our neighborhood because it was where we had been renting for 2 years and we felt so comfortable in this area. We had our favorite restaurants and people all nearby.

Thanks, Liz and Tim!