Like its music and its menus, New Orleans homes have their own special magic.
From white picket fences to black wrought-iron balconies, lavish living spaces to luscious landscapes, many a house in the Crescent City can cast a spell on potential buyers.
Viewers can watch this unfold, buyer by buyer, on HGTV's new show, "Selling the Big Easy."
Casting her spell over the 14-episode series premiering at 8 p.m. Friday is its New Orleans-born-and-bred host, Brittany Picolo-Ramos.
Exuding her Southern charm, Picolo-Ramos escorts her clients through the home-buying process, sprinkling in fun between all the talk of square feet and surveys, asking prices and acreage.
In the first episode, the 36-year-old real estate agent guides New Orleans newbies Kyle Mihalcoe and Kaylan McDuff on their search for that special place with Big Easy charm and architecture, space for their two dogs to romp and room to grow.
Will they choose the historic renovation right off Magazine Street in Uptown or the massive Metairie estate by the lake? Uptown has that great balcony, but oh, that wine room in Metairie is "to die for" in Picolo-Ramos' words. Decisions, decisions.
While they think it over, Picolo-Ramos and her team — including Lauren Dunaway, Derek Pittmon and Picolo-Ramos' brother, Joel Picolo — take on a staging project at a condo for sale two blocks off picturesque St. Charles Avenue. A couple of days and $3,000 later, it's an appealing abode with a new asking price.
Between trips across town and around the city, Picolo-Ramos discussed her high-profile career and latest adventure on HGTV.
How did you get into the real estate business?
I was working at a cellphone company, and I hurt my back pretty badly. I’m a big believer that everything does happen for a reason, so I began to think, “Well, what do I do now?” Soon after, a family friend who was a real estate agent called me. She actually was going to try and get me to sell skincare, but I had a gut feeling that what I needed to do was real estate. I had always resisted it in the past, because my older sister was a real estate agent, but in that moment I knew that this is what I needed to be doing.
How long have you been in this business, and when did you become an owner of Godwyn & Stone?
I’ve been in the business for seven years going on eight. I started a real estate team called The Picolo-Ramos team with my husband (Marco Ramos) back in 2015, and we had a lot of success over the years. In 2019, we decided to launch our own real estate firm, Godwyn & Stone.
How did the show come about?
I got a call from a friend who stages homes saying that HGTV wanted to use one of my listings on their show about home staging. At the property that day, I was just talking with the executive producers about the city and asking them if they had been to any restaurants yet. I love to make people laugh, so I was joking around with them and one of the producers said, “Oh, you’re so funny!” and I replied, “I know, I should have my own show!” And she agreed! She made a few calls and here we are!
Was there an adjustment period in getting used to being filmed while you worked?
Honesty, not really. I really felt like I was working normally, having authentic conversations with my team and my clients, but cameras were just there. It was difficult not looking at the camera, though. I was able to still continue all my listing transactions, because I have a great team around me.
When did filming start? Did you have to stop due to COVID-19?
The show has been in the works for more than two years. We filmed the pilot back in 2018, and started filming for this season in January. We did have to halt filming for COVID for a couple of months starting in March. We picked back up in June of this year.
About your brother Joel, what are the pros and cons of working with a sibling?
He’s very much like me, so he likes to argue, and it’s like arguing with myself! He doesn’t put me on a pedestal that’s for sure. He’s very professional, and he is just as hardworking and integrous as I am. A con is that I can’t just fire him when I want to. Ha ha, just joking. I truly do love working with him. He’s someone I can be very open and vulnerable with, and he always has my back.
Can you tell us the most expensive property you've sold and describe it?
In order to protect our clients, we don’t discuss particular price points. We did have a home in the French Quarter that was in the million-plus market and had been on the market for a long time. We came in, staged it and sold it for $400,000 more than the original price.
What are some of the special things buyers in New Orleans today really look for in a home?
Location is very important. They want to be close to the action, and have an open floor plan. Every area has totally different wants and needs that attracts different buyers for different reasons. Some want to be closer to the city, others prefer more land or a larger backyard. That’s why we work with so many different types of properties, because buyers have so many different needs and wants.
Which do you enjoy more, selling or staging?
They go hand and hand! Good staging allows the selling process to be way easier. If the house is beautiful, the house will sell fast.
What are your favorite HGTV shows?
I love all of them equally, and I can’t wait to be a part of the HGTV family! It depends on the mood I am in, too. If I’m more relaxed, I like to watch “House Hunters.” If I’m in more of a creative mood, I’ll watch “Home Town” or “Love it or List it.”
What's the craziest thing that ever happened when you were showing a home?
It was very early on in my career, and I was showing a rental property. It was being leased and the owner forgot to tell the tenant that we were coming. We walked in and there was the tenant, standing right in the middle of the living room in nothing but his underpants. I learned my lesson quickly and now I always knock for a solid minute before entering!
'Selling the Big Easy'
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday
NETWORK: HGTV (cable Channel 54 in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, cable Channel 68 in New Orleans)
Listen close to hear these favorites from Brittany Picolo-Ramos:
"We all like a good pocket door."
"I feel like I just need a room where I can dress up and live my dreams."
"Wallpaper's coming back with a vengeance, a happy vengeance, like I'm feelin' it vengeance."
"I don't think I can sell real estate anywhere else. They'd be like, 'Ma'am, please leave!'"