The Homestead Exemption – a law providing tax relief for homeowners and farmers if certain conditions are met – was first introduced in the United States in 1862. Initially devised to encourage settlement of the American frontier, this system has evolved over the years, becoming part of an important public policy that many states continue to use as one of their primary methods for supporting homeownership and family farming.
Whether you're looking to buy a new home or have been living on your rural property for generations, it's important to gain an understanding of how these laws can help protect your assets and ensure financial security.
What Does That Mean for You?
The exemptions for homestead properties vary from state to state. A few states, including Florida and Texas, afford unlimited financial protection against unsecured creditors for the home, although acreage limits may apply for the protected property.
In some states, homestead protection is automatic. In many states, however, homeowners receive the protections of the law only if they file a claim for homestead exemption with the state. Furthermore, the protection can be lost if the homeowner abandons the protected property by taking up primary residence elsewhere.
However, the protection limits are not for the value of the home, but for the homeowner's equity in it—the value of the property minus the balance of the mortgage and other financial claims on that property. If the equity held is less than the limit, the homeowner can't be forced to sell the property to benefit creditors.
In Nevada, the homestead exemption is provided for under the Nevada Constitution and state law, which allows homeowners to protect a portion of the equity in their primary residence from creditors. The amount of the exemption is $605,000 as of 2022, which means that creditors cannot seize the first $605,000 of the equity in a home. The homestead exemption can also provide a reduction in property taxes.
In Nevada, you'll use Nevada's state exemptions—the federal bankruptcy exemptions aren't available (some states allow residents to choose between the two sets). However, you can supplement Nevada's state exemptions with the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.
To claim the full value of the homestead exemption in any state, you must have owned the property for at least 1,215 days before the bankruptcy filing. If you can't meet this requirement, your homestead exemption is limited by federal law to $189,050 for cases filed between April 1, 2022, and March 31, 2025.
It is always good to check with your particular state and review what some disadvantages to the homestead exemption may be as well.
Some disadvantages of a homestead exemption include:
Limitations on selling or transferring property: A homestead property may have restrictions on selling or transferring the property, which can limit the homeowner's flexibility.
Property size restrictions: Some states have restrictions on the size of a homestead property, which can limit the homeowner's options if they have a large property.
Income restrictions: Some states have income restrictions for eligibility, which may limit access to the exemption for low-income homeowners.
Location limitations: Homestead exemptions may only be available in certain locations or states, which can limit their accessibility for some homeowners.
Reduced revenue for local governments: Homestead exemptions can result in reduced revenue for local governments, which may result in cuts to public services.
Value reassessment: A homestead exemption can affect the assessed value of a property, which can result in higher taxes for the homeowner if the property's value increases over time.
Interested in learning more? Head over to High Sierra Legal's Youtube channel!