Meet Tristyn and Kamohai Kalama, the Power Couple Hosts of 'Renovation Aloha'
These Hawaiian locals are uplifting their community one flip at a time.
Buying and flipping houses in one of the world’s most expensive real estate markets might seem impossible, but Tristyn and Kamohai Kalama — husband-and-wife real estate experts — have mastered the secret formula. They buy dilapidated, rundown homes on the beautiful island of O'ahu and transform them into breezy, modern havens.
Lucky for us, they’re sharing their scenic lives on HGTV’s new show Renovation Aloha, premiering Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 9|8c. Throughout the season, you’ll see the highs, lows and unique challenges of renovating homes in Hawaii, as well as glimpses into Hawaiian culture. Read on to learn more about the power couple, their mission to preserve their island community and what to expect from each episode.
Tristyn and Kamohai Are Native Hawaiians
Oahu is more than stunning beaches and panoramic mountains to Tristyn and Kamohai. It's home to their kids, Yasiel (7) and Vale (5), and it's filled with family, friends and a strong sense of community.
“You can’t go anywhere on Oahu without Kamohai bumping into someone,” says Tristyn. Kamohai’s family has lived on the island for generations. In fact, he has 87 first cousins (!) — so he’s likely to see family and friends wherever he goes.
No House is Unsalvageable
As long as it’s standing — even just barely! Tristyn and Kamohai are at-the-ready to make an offer and get renovating.
“If the house isn’t falling down, then it’s fixable,” Kamohai tells HGTV. “We don’t discriminate against any part of the island as far as potentially buying a house. If the numbers make sense, then we’re going to buy the house. Most of the houses we buy are all single walled, redwood tongue and groove, and full of stuff because one thing we bring to sellers is you don’t have to do anything. We’re buying the worst of the worst.”
There’s so much more to Renovation Aloha than buying a house and selling it. It’s about the culture and the people we’re interacting with.
“Where a lot of people see gross filth, we see a diamond and we see its future and we want to bring it back to life,” adds Tristyn.
It’s a Family-Run Business
From parents to cousins to siblings, Tristyn and Kamohai’s family is involved in every step of the flipping process. In fact, her dad is always on the lookout for potential buys — "he’ll text or call me and be like take this [address] down," says Tristyn.
"Our family is our backbone, our foundation, our support system. My brother is our project manager," she says. "My mom is pivotal with the kids. My sister-in-law is a realtor and sells a handful of our houses when we decide to list them. Kamohai’s cousin owns and operates the landscaping company. When there’s a need, there’s no doubt the family will be there for us.”
Flipping Houses Changed Their Lives
Before they got into buying and renovating houses, the couple was living paycheck-to-paycheck until Tristyn saw a commercial for a real estate seminar. She dragged Kamohai along and they realized, despite Hawaii’s expensive housing, they could start their own business flipping houses.
“We’ve always been entrepreneurs; we just hadn't found our thing yet,” says Kamohai. “I was hesitant in the seminar. They were telling me, somehow, I can buy million dollar houses, but then something clicked, and I said, ‘Let’s give it a shot.’”
Tristyn Handles Design and Renovations, and Kamohai is the Real Estate Pro
As a lifelong lover of HGTV, Tristyn is the designated designer. She comes up with renovation plans; selects countertops, tiles and textiles, and stages the homes when they're finally complete. Kamohai is an expert at hunting down and acquiring profitable flips. He knows how to calculate the numbers to ensure the couple comes out on top at the end of a renovation.
Their Goal Is to Give Back to Their Community
Before their career change, Tristyn, a licensed mental health counselor, founded and ran a nonprofit. Kamohai was a substance abuse counselor and owned a clothing store. They applied their entrepreneurship skills to real estate and built a profitable business that also aids their community. Not only do they create hundreds of local jobs with their projects, they also buy and sell houses off-market, making home ownership more achievable for locals.
“If we can work directly with local families, we love to do that through word-of-mouth, relationships and social media," says Tristyn. "We try to sell off-market so we can cut out real estate commissions and bring costs down. It helps local families walk into equity, but we still make the margins we need to run our business."
“When you own the real estate, you can control the real estate," says Kamohai. "[We want] to keep local families here in Hawaii. If we can control who the home goes to, then we try to do that. There’s so much more to Renovation Aloha than buying a house and selling it. It’s about the culture and the people we’re interacting with.”
They Have a Special Tradition to Wrap Up Projects
At the completion of every renovation, Tristyn and Kamohai gather with their family in the new home, and Kamohai’s dad blesses the house by playing a song on his ukulele.
“It’s so significant to every part of who we are," Tristyn explains. "Blessing a home prepares a space for the new family coming in, pays respects and shares insight into the historical."