Canadian / English (Hawaiian) Real Estate Glossary

Hawaii Real Estate Terms and Their Canadian Equivalents

With relative strength of the Canadian economy and the Loonie, we continue to enjoy working with a substantial number of Canadian Buyers and Sellers.  Canadians and Americans usually become fast friends.  We share a border, similar values and for the most part we speak the same language.  However, there are some differences in terminology and process when it comes to real estate transactions.

I wrote a previous blog post that served as A Primer for International Buyers. In this post we are going to specifically focus on some of the different terms used in some provinces of Canada and what they translate to here in Hawaii.  We understand that condominium and real estate laws do vary by province and we are by no means Canadian real estate experts, but we do hope that this may help shed some light on the differences in real estate terminology. Without further ado:

Canadian TermMaui Equivalent
Strata FeesMaintenance Fees
GarburatorGarbage Disposal
FreeholdFee Simple


Aside from these minor differences in the terminology, there are also differences in the purchase process as explained in the Primer for International Buyers.

To highlight a few of those differences:

  1. Buyers usually take a minimum of 10 to 14 days to remove their inspection contingencies (subjects) via the use of professional property inspections which may include home, pool, mold and other inspections if necessary. We know the best inspectors on Maui and can coordinate the inspection process for you. There are no laws in the Hawaii that prevent a Seller from transferring a property that is not up to code or that has defects. In other words, it is a Seller’s legal obligation to disclose these, but not necessarily fix them. This can become a negotiating point during the escrow process. If a Seller asks a Buyer to sign an “as-is” addendum, this is a statement that the Seller is unwilling to make any improvements to the property.
  2. Financing in the US is often done via fixed rate mortgages that amortize over a period of 30 years. Many Canadians opt to use their own financing from Canada for US properties, however, if you decide to finance here on Maui, we have lenders with years of experience helping our many Canadian clients obtain loans. Note that they will most likely require 35% down payment and full income documentation for at least two years. The documents needed include T-1’s, T-4’s, corporation and business returns, and current pay stubs.
  3. Signing documents. Some documents will have to be notarized by a US notary. The instructions will likely direct you to do the signing at the US Embassy. That will likely require scheduling an appointment and can be time consuming. If you live close enough, it may be easier to make the drive across the border to a US Notary.
  4. Closing. Many of our Canadian buyers have already returned home prior to closing. Once appropriate documents are signed, notarized and returned to escrow, closing takes place two days after all funds are received.
  5. Utilities. We’ll provide you with the appropriate phone numbers to change all utilities into your name including electric, telephone, liquid propane, cable, alarm and any other services. It is often customary for Maui Electric and some of the other utilities to require security deposits for Buyers just establishing credit in Hawaii.

We hope to hear from you soon. As always, feel free to Contact The Maui Real Estate Team with questions or check out this week’s new listings.

Finally, if you’re still reading this post, we think that you ought to choose a Realtor with at least a modicum of understanding of Canadian Culture and perhaps a bit of a sense of humor. To that end, we recommend that you screen your prospective Realtors with The Following Test.

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