Have you found yourself struggling financially? Perhaps you’ve taken on more debt than you can handle and now have to file for bankruptcy. Or, maybe you recently lost your job and worry you’ll fall behind on your payments. Any sort of financial difficulty can be stressful, but it becomes even more worrying when your home might be at risk.

Homestead exemptions can help you reduce property taxes and protect your house from creditors. Homestead exemptions by state may differ; some of the more beneficial options include:

  • New York, which offers exemptions up to $331,100
  • Arizona, which offers exemptions up to $400,000
  • California, which offers exemptions up to $600,000
  • Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas, which all offer unlimited exemptions

At Blake Harris Law, we understand that homestead exemptions may seem confusing. What exactly are they? How do they work, and what does your state offer? We want to answer these questions. That’s why we’ve created a list exploring homestead exemptions by state. Discover the benefits of these laws, learn more about how to apply for the exception, and compare options for different states.

Which states offer the highest homestead protection amounts?

puzzle pieces representing the 50 states of United States

Each state has its own laws surrounding exemptions. Some may only allow you to protect properties up to a specific size; others may limit exemptions based on certain factors. Because of this, it’s important to explore homestead exemptions by state to learn more about what’s available.

State Exemption Type Terms
Alabama Limited Exemption limit (individual): $15,000

Exemption limit (married couple/joint owner): $30,000

The lot cannot exceed 160 acres. Both real property and mobile homes are included under the exemption. Surviving spouses and minor children can take advantage of the exemption should the homeowner pass away.

Alaska Limited Exemption limit: $72,900

Homeowners may also claim a statutory exemption (up to $54,000).

Joint owners can both claim part of the exemption, but the total can’t exceed the limit.

Arizona Limited Exemption limit: $150,000*

*As of January 1, 2024, this number now increases annually based on the consumer price index and can reach up to $400,000.

Primary residences may include standard homes (and attached land), mobile homes, condominiums, or co-ops. If you sell your homestead, the laws protect those proceeds for either 18 months or until you find a new homestead.

Arkansas Unlimited The unlimited exemption applies to an additional ¼ acre of land in a city or town or 80 acres in a rural area. The exemption protects any additional acreage up to $2,500. The homestead can’t exceed one acre in a city or 160 acres in a rural area. Unlimited exemptions remain in place regardless of death, divorce, or emancipation. Liens that existed before the property becoming the main residence don’t apply to the exemption.
California Limited Exemption limit: $300,000 to $600,000 (as of January 1, 2021)

The exemption amount is indexed annually and automatically updated for each county.

The exemption applies to single-family homes, co-ops, condos, mobile homes, boats, or any other property used as a primary residence.

Colorado Limited Exemption limit: $75,000 to $250,000

Exemption limit if the homeowner, homeowner’s spouse, or homeowner’s dependent is elderly or disabled: $105,000 to $350,000.

The exemption can apply to any personal property used as a primary residence, as well as attached land.

Connecticut Limited Exemption limit (individual): $75,000

Exemption limit (married couple/joint owner): $150,000

The exemption limit may rise to $125,000 if the homeowner faces a monetary judgment due to hospital services.

The exemption includes mobile homes, condominiums, and co-ops, in addition to single-family homes, provided you use them as the primary residence.

Delaware Limited Exemption limit: $125,000

The exemption includes real property and manufactured homes used as primary residences.

Florida Unlimited Unlimited exemption, but the protected property cannot exceed ½ acre inside a city and 160 acres outside of one. If you file for bankruptcy, you can’t claim the exemption unless you’ve lived on the property for at least 40 months. Pre-existing liens don’t apply toward the exemption, and boats are not protected. If you pass away, your spouse or child may also claim the exemption.
Georgia Limited Exemption limit (individual): $21,500

Exemption limit (married couple/joint owner): $43,000

The exemption includes land attached to the primary dwelling place. The exemption excludes prior liens. Up to $5,000 can be applied to other properties, provided a portion of the homestead is unused.

Hawaii Limited Exemption limit: $20,000

Exemption limit for the head of household or owners over 65: $30,000

Pre-existing liens don’t apply to the exemption.

Idaho Limited Exemption limit: $100,000

The exemption includes a standard home, a mobile home, and any land attached. It may also include undeveloped land, provided you intend to build a primary residence on the land. If you sell your property, the proceeds are exempt for six months.

Illinois Limited Exemption limit (individual): $15,000

Exemption limit (married couple/joint owner): $30,000

In addition to standard homes, the exemption includes farms, condominiums, co-ops, and land. If you sell your homestead, the proceeds are exempt for one year after closing.

Indiana Limited Exemption limit (individual): $19,300

Exemption limit (married couple/joint owner): $38,600

In addition to personal property used as a primary residence, other real estate may be exempt for up to $5,000. In addition, if your spouse incurs debt but you don’t, your property may be exempt.

Iowa Unlimited The unlimited exemption protects up to half an acre inside a city or 40 acres outside of one. That said, you can use the homestead to help pay off debt should liquidating other property not satisfy your obligations. The homestead may retain its protection, even if annexed. The protection excludes pre-existing liens and debts.
Kansas Unlimited The unlimited exemption extends to one acre within a city and 160 acres in a rural area. The property can include a standard home, mobile home, or manufactured home. If you file for bankruptcy, your property may not have protection unless you’ve resided in the property for 40 months or more.
Kentucky Limited Exemption limit: $5,000

The state doesn’t include any debts acquired before purchasing the homestead.

Louisiana Limited Exemption limit: $35,000

The exempted property can’t exceed five acres in a city or 200 acres outside of one. If you incurred debt because of catastrophic or terminal injuries or illness, the limit grows to encompass the full value of your property. If you pass away, your spouse or minor children may also utilize the exemption. Any liens, debts, or mortgages from criminal conduct don’t apply to the exemption.

Maine Limited Exemption limit: $47,500

Exemption limit if the homeowner has minor dependents, if the homeowner is over 60, or if the owner is disabled: $95,000

The exemption includes standard homes and co-ops, as well as the sale of the homestead, for up to six months. The exemption doesn’t apply to any debts applying to many torts, aside from simple negligence.

Maryland Limited Exemption limit: $22,975

If only one spouse incurs debt, the property is exempt from that debt. The exemption applies to condominiums, co-ops, and real property.

Massachusetts Limited Exemption limit: $500,000

The exemption applies to any structures with land attached, such as manufactured homes, co-ops, and condominiums. In addition, the exemption protects proceeds from a sale either until a year passes or you find a new place to live. To claim the full exemption, you’ll need to file a Declaration of Homestead with the Registry of Deeds. If one of a property’s owners is elderly or disabled, the exemption may double.

Michigan Limited Exemption limit: $30,000

Exemption limit if the owner is over 65 years old or disabled: $45,000

Exemption limit for certain judgments related to creditors: $3,500

The exempted property may include a mobile home, condominium, or boat in addition to standard real estate. The exempted property can’t exceed one lot within a city or 40 acres in a rural area.

Minnesota Limited Exemption limit: $390,000

The exempted property can’t exceed one acre within a city or 160 acres outside of one. The exemption extends to sales proceeds for one year, though it may not apply if you need to pay spousal or child support. If you use the property for agricultural purposes, the exemption amount may rise significantly.

Mississippi Limited Exemption limit: $75,000

Exemption limit for mobile homes, provided you don’t own the land the mobile home is on is $30,000

The exemption includes the property and any attached land, with a maximum limit of 160 acres. If you’re over 60, you may be able to claim land you no longer use as your primary residence. The exemption doesn’t include certain liens, mortgages, and judgments related to bail bonds or labor.

Missouri Limited Exemption limit: $15,000

Exemption limit for mobile homes, provided you don’t own the land the mobile home is on: $5,000

The exemption includes the actual home, the land it’s located on, and additional structures on the lot. If your homestead’s value exceeds the exemption limit, you can choose which part of your property to apply it to.

Montana Limited Exemption limit: $250,000

The exemption includes real property and mobile homes. In addition, if you sell your property, the court condemns your property, or you make an insurance claim over damaged property, any proceeds are exempt for up to 18 months. To claim your exemption, you’ll need to file a Declaration of Homestead.

Nebraska Limited Exemption limit: $60,000

The exemption includes the primary dwelling, the land it’s on, and additional structures on the property. Only the head of the household can claim the exemption. The property can’t exceed two lots if you’re in a city or 160 acres if you’re in a rural area. If you sell your homestead, the proceeds remain exempt for a maximum of six months.

Nevada Limited Exemption limit: $550,000

The exemption covers any mobile homes, condominiums, co-ops, or real estate, as well as land that a property dwells on. In addition, if you sell your homestead but plan to use the proceeds to purchase or renovate another living place, you can protect those proceeds for 180 days. To claim the exemption, you’ll need to file a Declaration of Homestead.

New Hampshire Limited Exemption limit: $100,000

The exemption applies to real property and manufactured homes (as well as the land the property is on). You can include this land in a revocable trust. The exemption doesn’t include mortgages and certain liens.

New Jersey Limited Exemption limit: $0

New Jersey has no homestead exemptions, though individuals may be able to take advantage of federal exemptions. In addition, property owned by both spouses can’t be used to pay off debts held by only one spouse.

New Mexico Limited Exemption limit (individual): $60,000

Exemption limit (married couple/joint owner): $120,000

The exemption applies to the dwelling itself and the land it’s on. If you don’t have a homestead, you can protect up to $5,000 of other property. Mortgages and certain liens won’t be included in the exemption.

New York Limited Exemption limit (individual): $82,775 to $165,550

Exemption limit (married couple/joint owner): $165,550 to $331,100

The exemption includes standard homes, mobile homes, condominiums, and co-ops. The exact amount you can exempt varies depending on the county. Surviving spouses and minor children of a deceased homeowner can take advantage of the exemption. The exemption applies to the value after deducting any liens (excluding liens, judgments, and mortgages related to buying the home).

North Carolina Limited Exemption limit (individual): $35,000

Exemption limit (married couple/joint owner): $70,000

Exemption limit if the owner is over 65, the previous co-owner is deceased, or the owner is unmarried: $60,000

Any real or personal property used as the primary dwelling can be used for the exemption. You can use a maximum of $5,000 toward additional personal property.

North Dakota Limited Exemption limit: $100,000

The exemption includes standard homes (and the land they’re on), mobile homes, and house trailers. If you sell your property, the exemption protects it for up to a year. The exemption doesn’t include mortgages, certain judgments, and certain liens.

Ohio Limited Exemption limit: $136,925

Statutory exemption limit: $125,000

The exemption applies to any property used as a primary dwelling place. Certain judgments, liens, and mortgages won’t be included in the exemption.

Oklahoma Unlimited The exempted property can’t exceed one acre within a city or town or 160 acres in a rural area. If you use more than 25% of the home for a business, you can only claim a $5,000 exemption. You can rent the homestead and still claim the exemption, provided you don’t purchase another property to live in.
Oregon Limited Exemption limit: $40,000

Exemption limit (joint owner): $50,000

The exemption property can include standard homes, mobile homes, or houseboats. The exempted property can’t be more than one block in an urban area or 160 acres in a rural area. If you sell your homestead, the exemption protects the proceeds for a year, provided you intend to purchase another home. The exemption doesn’t include mortgages, certain liens, or spousal/child support.

Pennsylvania Limited Exemption limit: $0

Pennsylvania doesn’t have any homestead exemptions, though homeowners may be able to use federal exemptions. Homesteads owned by more than one individual can’t be used to settle debt held by only one of the owners.

Puerto Rico Unlimited The exempted property must be a person’s primary residence and cannot be pledged for a mortgage. The homestead protection shall be waived in cases of state and federal tax collection, debt owed to contractors for repairs to the property, and Federal Bankruptcy Code cases. Owners must file a notarized note with the Land Registrar to designate the property as a “safe home” or “hogar seguro.”
Rhode Island Limited Exemption limit: $500,000

The exemption includes property you currently occupy and property you intend to occupy as the primary residence. Any liens and debts the owner had before purchasing the homestead don’t count toward the exemption.

South Carolina Limited Exemption limit (individual): $58,225

Exemption limit (married couple/joint owner): $116,510

Statutory exemption limit: $50,000

The exemption covers standard homes, condominiums, and co-ops. If you pass away, your spouse may also claim the exemption.

South Dakota Unlimited The unlimited exemption applies to no more than one acre of land in a city or 160 acres in a rural area. In addition, the exemption protects up to $30,000 in proceeds if you sell your property (limited to one year after the sale). If you pass away, your surviving spouse or minor children can also take advantage of the exemption.
Tennessee Limited Exemption limit (individual): $5,000

Exemption limit (married couple/joint owner): $7,500

Any property used by the homeowner, the homeowner’s spouse, or the homeowner’s dependents can qualify. The exemption limit may rise depending on if the individual is unmarried, if one or both spouses are age 62 or older, or if the homeowner has custody of minor children. Surviving spouses and minor children can take advantage of the exemption. Certain mortgages and liens may be excluded from the exemption.

Texas Unlimited Unlimited exemption; the exempted property can’t exceed 10 acres in a city, 100 acres if you live alone in a rural area, or 200 acres if you live with family in a rural area. The exemption includes beneficiaries of certain trusts. To claim the exemption, you must file a Declaration of Homestead. In addition, anyone convicted of a security violation can only claim an exemption of $125,000.
Utah Limited Exemption limit (individual): $20,000

Exemption limit (married couple/joint owner): $40,000

The exemption includes any real property or mobile home used as a primary residence, as well as up to one acre of attached land. In addition, the exemption protects water rights and proceeds from selling the homestead. You may also protect up to $5,000 of additional property. The exemption doesn’t include mortgages, some liens, or spousal/child support.

Vermont Limited Exemption limit (individual): $125,000

Exemption limit (married couple/joint owner): $250,000

The exempted property includes houses, mobile homes, and up to one acre of attached land. Surviving spouses and minor dependents can claim the exemption. Provisions exist to allow owners to claim rent, outbuildings, and profits from the property. The exemption generally doesn’t include any mortgages or liens the owner acquired when purchasing the homestead.

Virginia Limited Exemption limit (individual): $5,000

Exemption limit (married couple/joint owner): $10,000

Exemption limit if you’re above 65: $10,000

If you have any minor dependents, you can add $500 to the exemption for each one. If you sell your homestead, you can protect up to $5,000 of the proceeds. Some rent may also fall under the protection. Before you can claim the exemption, you need to file a Declaration of Homestead. The exemption doesn’t include mortgages, certain liens, child support, or alimony.

Washington Limited Exemption limit: $125,000 or the median home value for your county

The exemption amount uses whichever of the above amounts is higher. In addition to standard homes, mobile homes can be exempted, provided the owner intends to use them as their primary residence. You may have to file a Declaration of Exemption to claim the full amount. This exemption also extends to insurance payouts and proceeds from selling the homestead (for up to one year after the sale). Some debts and liens may be excluded from the exemption. In addition, if you face court proceedings because you failed to pay income tax on some sort of retirement plan and the judge rules in favor of the state, you cannot claim the exemption.

West Virginia Limited Exemption limit (individual): $25,000

Exemption limit (married couple/joint owner): $50,000

Creditor claims: $5,000

If the creditor claims the debt arose because of a catastrophic illness or injury: $7,500

The exemption includes any property used as a primary residence; if you don’t use all of the exemption, you may apply the rest to additional properties. If you pass away, your children may claim the exemption until they reach age 21. The exemption may not include certain liens.

Wisconsin Limited Exemption limit (individual): $75,000

Exemption limit (married couple/joint owner): $150,000

The exemption extends to any property you currently live in or intend to make your permanent residence, including mobile homes, trailers, and condominiums. The land can’t exceed more than 40 acres. If you sell your homestead, the exemption protects the proceeds for a maximum of two years. The state excludes certain liens from the exemption.

Wyoming Limited Exemption limit (individual): $20,000

Exemption limit (married couple/joint owner): $40,000

The exempted property includes standard homes, mobile homes, trailers, and attached land. If you pass away, your spouse or minor children can also take advantage of the exemption.

What is a homestead exemption?

Your homestead is your primary residence, whether it’s a single-family dwelling, mobile home, condominium, or other property. It is likely your biggest investment and provides necessary shelter against the elements. If you find yourself struggling financially, however, your property may be in jeopardy. For example, say you have large amounts of credit card debt. If you can’t make payments, creditors may force you to sell your property to cover the difference.

A homestead exemption is a legal way to protect your property. These laws can help you lower property tax payments, defend your property from creditors, and reduce the repercussions of bankruptcy, among other benefits. How much the exemption is — and whether you can claim an exemption at all — will vary depending on the state.

Homestead exemptions apply only to your primary residence. Generally, this means a single-family home and (depending on the state) the land it rests on. However, some states extend the exemption to mobile homes, condominiums, co-ops, and even boats, provided you live there full-time. You’ll want to examine your state’s homestead exemptions to determine whether your property qualifies.

Benefits of Homestead Exemptions

asset protection attorney holding house model

Homestead exemptions are excellent tools for anyone struggling financially. By applying for an exemption, you can reduce your financial burden, worry less about creditors, and keep your loved ones safe.

Creditor Protection

Debt can be crippling. If you have a high income-to-debt ratio, you may find yourself struggling to make payments. Creditors may grow impatient and pursue alternative ways to reclaim their money, which puts your property at risk.

Homestead exemptions shield some or all of your property from these actions. Each state has its limits; if your property stays below those limits, creditors can’t force you to sell your property to repay your debts. If the property’s value is above those limits, you may still lose the property itself; however, exemptions may mitigate the backlash by letting you keep some of the proceeds.

Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy offers relief for people struggling with overwhelming debt. However, it also often leads to the loss of property. While federal bankruptcy law can help protect you, it only applies if your equity is less than $25,150.

Your state’s homestead exemption laws can provide you with additional protection. Many states offer higher exemption limits, which means you’re more likely to keep your property.

Protects Surviving Spouses and Children

Debt can be difficult to deal with at any point, but that becomes especially true if the debtor passes away. Your spouse or children might find themselves suddenly facing the prospect of losing their home with no recourse. Homestead exemptions aim to protect creditors so that your loved ones remain safe.

Provides Tax Relief

Property taxes can be difficult to pay if you find yourself facing financial hardships. A homestead exemption can reduce your burden by lowering your property’s taxable value.

Say, for example, that you have a property assessed at $200,000. Your state determines if you’re eligible for a $75,000 exemption. This would lower your property’s taxable value to $125,000, which would, in turn, lower your property taxes.

Types of Homestead Exemptions

Homestead exemptions vary by state but will fall into one of the following two categories.

Unlimited

As the name implies, an unlimited exemption protects the entire homestead, regardless of its value. That said, many states impose some limits; for example, in Arkansas, your property can’t exceed one acre in an urban area or 160 acres in a rural one.

Capped

Capped exemptions will only protect your homestead up to a certain amount, with the exact value varying depending on the state. California, for example, has such a high exemption limit that it can almost function like an unlimited exemption; Kentucky, on the other hand, will only protect up to $5,000. Some states will increase the limit under certain circumstances — for example, married couples may have their limit doubled.

Are there states that don’t offer homestead exemptions?

man holding rubber stamp with the word failed

Almost every state provides homeowners with some protection, even if it’s not a particularly large amount. However, two states don’t offer any exemptions: Pennsylvania and New Jersey. While you might be able to take advantage of federal homestead exemption laws, the states themselves offer no coverage. Because of this, you’ll likely want to take extra steps to protect your property — for example, pursuing asset protection planning.

How To Apply for Homestead Exemptions

Before applying, take the time to determine whether you’re eligible. The exact eligibility requirements vary by state; that said, many include the following stipulations:

  • You must live in the state where you plan to claim the exemption.
  • You can only claim the exemption for your primary residence.
  • You must claim the exemption as an individual or, in some states, as the beneficiary of a revocable living trust; you cannot claim the exemption as a business.

Exemption limits may change based on your marital status, disability status, and age, among other variables. Be sure to check your state’s guidelines before applying.

Once you’ve determined your eligibility, visit your county tax assessor’s website. The application process differs by state, but many will require you to fill out a form and provide proof of eligibility. Once that information is submitted, someone will review your application to determine whether the state should approve it.

Some states may also automatically apply for homestead exemptions, either as a flat-dollar exemption where they deduct a specific number from what you owe, or a percentage exemption where they deduct a percentage from what you owe.

Discover More About Homestead Exemptions and Protect Your Property

You want to do whatever you can to protect your property. Understanding homestead exemptions by state is a good first step; take the process further by exploring asset protection planning from Blake Harris Law. We can assess your situation, discuss your options, and create a plan for your peace of mind. Reach out today to request a consultation and learn more about what we do.