It's a family affair for real estate agents Constance "Connie" Ostrem Carr, left, and Cathy Ostrem and her husband, Robby Ostrem, at East Oahu Realty in Hawaii Kai.

Team Ostrem
combines talents

Each member of the real estate-selling
family contributes something different

In Hawaii, people often refer to their co-workers as ohana, but in the case of Team Ostrem, they really are.


Husband and wife team Cathy and Robby Ostrem have added his sister Connie Ostrem Carr to their mix of professionals who can assist clients with real estate and insurance needs.

The family team, who serve as independent contractors for East Oahu Realty in Hawaii Kai, have decades of real estate experience and family connections.

"Working together as a family allows us to pool our resources and talents," said Cathy Ostrem, who came to Hawaii from the Pacific Northwest.

She met Robby in 1967 on a trip to Honolulu with college friends, and never left. A member of a large part-Hawaiian family, Robby encouraged Cathy's interest in Hawaiian culture. As a result, Cathy has studied hula and Hawaiian language for more than 35 years.

Cathy spent nearly 25 years in the travel and airline industry, before beginning her real estate career at Coldwell Banker in 1996. In 1998 she made the move to East Oahu Realty. However, the business really took off when husband Robby, a full-time insurance agent with Jerry Hay Inc., placed his real estate license at East Oahu Realty in 2000, to assist Cathy with her clients.

"Robby's assistance affords me the precious moments I am able to enjoy with our growing family of two children and four grandchildren. I can also take time to pursue my other passions, hula and Hawaiian culture," she said.

Combining talents paid off so well for the couple that they've expanded their family business ties. Earlier this year, the couple recruited his sister Connie to leave her post at Caron B. Realty and join the Ostrem team. And eventually, the couple hopes to add their son Kanoa, an attorney, and his Realtor wife, Renee, to the family business.

Having so many Realtors in the family just seems natural to the Ostrems, who think of themselves as carrying on the legacy set by mother Kai Lemke Ostrem, 85, who was in real estate for more than 50 years.

Kai Lemke Ostrem began selling real estate in 1957 in Wahiawa, and it was her success that paid for many of the extras enjoyed by her children, including their Punahou educations, Robby Ostrem said.

Cathy and Robby Ostrem, and Constance "Connie" Ostrem Carr team up in their real estate business.

"My dad, Robert Sverre 'Bob' Ostrem, was very conservative, but (my mom) was always willing to take calculated risks," he said.

One story often told in the Ostrem house is the day their mother came home from work and told their father, who as an administrator of engineering for Hawaiian Electric Co. was making about $400 a month, that she'd bought 10 houses for a total of $100,000.

"My father was really worried," Robby said.

But Kai's investment paid off, because she got the military to guarantee that they would be rented by active-duty families, he said.

"Those houses really helped our family and they made us believe in real estate," Carr said, adding that even though, like Cathy, she got her start working in the airline industry, real estate seemed like a more natural fit.

But while Kai encouraged her children to go into real estate, she always warned, "One of you should have a real job," Robby said.

Although Robby's insurance career has helped bring balance to the family's real estate undertakings, they've seen many highs and lows as they've rode Hawaii's fast real estate ride.

"It works because we support each other," Carr said. "When you are in the real estate industry your radar is always on -- whether you are networking, doing volunteer work or showing one of the latest listings."



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