Kari Ayala

Working with Heart

When you care deeply about what you do, it shows. You can see the people who have a passion for their work because they make it look easy.
That’s what Kari Ayala does on a daily basis. 
As Broker with New Orleans Property Services, Kari works with heart … dedicating herself to the needs of her team members and clients.
Finding Her New Orleans Home
Kari first moved to New Orleans to attend graduate school at Tulane. It didn’t take her long to fall for the city, and she decided to make her home here.
As Kari says, she has always been in love with the architecture of New Orleans.
“For me, the city felt like the closest place to living in Latin America or Europe, and yet still be in the United States,” Kari says. “That sense of history and the homes and the complexity of how the city developed through the years are all fascinating to me. You can see that in the old historical houses. I also love the newer houses here. There’s a dramatically larger range of choices today.”
One of Kari’s first experiences with real estate came in 1998. That’s when Kari, her brothers, and her father bought a house together — a property built in 1884 by Henry Howard.
“It was an incredible home with a lot of space, but it needed a ton of work,” she says. “My dad and brother lived here, along with my father’s nurse. Each of us had our own apartments in the house.”
Leading by Example
A big passion in the business for Kari is mentoring and supporting the success of others through the sharing of information … educating others. In fact, she made a positive mark on the area through education, working as a teacher and administrator.
In 2000, Kari helped to start the International School of Louisiana, a full-immersion charter school program serving children from kindergarten through 8th grade.
As time passed, she earned her real estate license in 2004. Then, her life took a new path. 
“When Hurricane Katrina hit, my children were 18 months old. Most of our properties, along with our school campus, flooded,” Kari remembers. “Plus, at the time, I had just taken in my 10-year-old stepdaughter, who had immigrated here from Honduras.”
Like many at the time, Kari left New Orleans for a time while recovery efforts were underway.
“My mother lived in the Black Hills area of South Dakota, so we went and lived with her there for a time,” Kari says.
That move provided additional opportunity.
“While we were living there with my mother, I got a bit bored, and I thought it would be a great time to get my Broker’s license,” she recalls.
That’s what she did.
“When I came back to New Orleans, we were still rebuilding our own property, so I started back in education, working at  the Esperanza Middle School as a  school leader there until 2011.”
At that point, Kari went back to administrative work at the International High School of New Orleans for a couple of years until 2013 when she started her full-time real estate journey.
Like many who start their real estate careers, Kari worked through a time of transition.
“The first leap was really scary. I had lined up a part-time job with the Anti-Defamation League,” Kari explains. “I had loved working in the school system. If you’re good at what you do in the school system, you get more work — and not more pay. So, I decided to make the leap. As scary as it was, it was the best decision for me.”
Sparking Success
It’s easy to see the contagious brand of energy that Kari brings to life and business.
“I think one of the things that really spurred that on for me was back in 1998 when we bought real estate, then a couple more and a couple more,” she says. “I just have a love of the process, and it has also given me an opportunity to learn a lot about the industry — from new construction to renovation, residential sales and investment, including property management and being a landlord .”
Steps Forward
One of the most rewarding parts of her real estate career has been Kari’s opportunity to start her own brokerage.
“I was working as an individual agent. I liked the flexibility of working on my own, and then I thought I could build my own team,” she says. “We have a very small organically developed group of women who I work with … all of whom are in their second careers. That’s been really great. I played soccer in college and have always enjoyed being part of a team, so that has been wonderful.”
The results that Kari and her team have recorded have been remarkable. In fact, the team recorded over $50 million in sales volume in 2021.
Fulfilling Life
Kari treasures time with her twin children —Marco, who is studying film at Loyola University, and Rosie, who is studying at the University of Denver.
“They're both doing great,” she says with a smile. “They’re wrapping up their first year in school, and are really enjoying their college experience.”
In her free time, Kari is an avid golfer, something she has taken up since the pandemic. She also looks forward to spending time traveling, with favorite trips to Colorado, Spain and Mexico. She also looks forward to time taking part in the rich array of New Orleans festivals, and of course, Mardi Gras. She has a passion for traveling, skiing, spending time in the mountains, and hiking. She has even climbed some of the world’s most breathtaking places, including Mt. Kilimanjaro and Machu Picchu.
Kari is a founding member of the Krewe of Dolly, which is a carnival social club with the goal of supporting literacy in New Orleans and bringing the Imagination Library to the city (founded in 2020 by a small group of Dolly enthusiasts). Membership in the Krewe of Dolly is open to all. As a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization, the Krewe of Dolly seeks to support literacy and provide free books to every child from birth to age five by bringing Dolly's Imagination Library to New Orleans. For more information, see www.thekreweofdolly.org.
Day by day, Kari serves the best interests of her team, clients and community by working with heart.
“I’m still very passionate about education and the fact that we can help others. My education world has pivoted into the work I do today,” she smiles. “For me, it’s about helping people learn how to buy a house and what the benefits are. Growing up, I never lived in a house we owned. But as a homeowner myself, I now know what a difference that has made my life.”