Texas Homestead Laws

Understanding what they mean for Austin newcomers

To qualify for the Texas homestead exemption, homeowners must move into the property by January 1 of that year.

Before settling on the home of your dreams, it’s important for future homeowners to understand a few basics about Texas homestead real estate laws. A homestead is defined in Texas as the place of residence for a family or individual and is secure from forced sale by general creditors.

The Texas Constitution guarantees the only way a person can lose his or her homestead rights is by death, abandonment, sale of property, or foreclosure of a lien against the homestead. Texas has two types of homesteads: urban and rural. In most cases, Texas homeowners file for homestead exemption as a way to help lower their taxes. To qualify for homestead exemption, homeowners must move into the property by January 1 of that year. If a buyer purchases his or her home on January 2, application for the homestead exemption must wait until the following year.

Once filed, a Texas homestead exemption is valid as long as the homeowner lives on the property and is using it as the primary residence. If the homeowner moves out of the property and rents it, then the exemption goes away. Also, homestead law states that if a property is purchased with a pre-existing homestead exemption, the homestead exemption transfers to the new owner.

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