Homestead Exemptions Across the States

A homestead is the primary residence owned and lived in by a person or a family. A homestead exemption protects at least part of the value of the homestead from creditors. Texas and a few other states, as the second column in the table below shows, provide unlimited protection up to the full value of a home. In Texas, no creditors except a mortgage holder, a taxing authority, or the holder of a note for a home improvement loan may force the sale of a family home to satisfy nonpayment of debt. Most states set a maximum level of homestead protection, but some, like Pennsylvania, provide no state homestead protection at all.

Whether states protect homesteads or not, new federal bankruptcy provisions passed in 2005 cap the exemption at $125,000 for residences bought within three years and four months of a bankruptcy filing. Because Texas law permitted Enron executives charged with the company's collapse to protect multi-million dollar mansions, federal law now also mandates the $125,000 cap for debtors convicted of securities law violations. Moreover, if homeowners fraudulently convert nonexempt assets to buy a home, the exemption is reduced by the amount of fraud.

State Exemption Conditions
Florida Unlimited One-half acre in city or up to 160 acres in rural area.
Iowa Unlimited One-half acre in city or up to forty acres elsewhere.
Kansas Unlimited One city acre or up to 160 acres elsewhere.
Oklahoma Unlimited  
South Dakota Unlimited One city acre or up to 160 acres elsewhere.
(Texas) Unlimited Ten acres anywhere; home equity loans legalized in 2003 and subject to foreclosure.
Massachusetts $300,000  
Minnesota $200,000 $500,000 if chiefly agricultural use; one-half city acre or up to 160 acres elsewhere.
Nevada $200,000  
Rhode Island $200,000  
Arizona  $150,000  
Montana $100,000 Farmland up to 320 acres or one-quarter acre in city or one acre elsewhere.
New Hampshire $100,000  
North Dakota $80,000  
Connecticut $75,000 Up to $125,000 for judgments due to hospital expenses.
Mississippi $75,000 160 acres or less.
Vermont $75,000  
Alaska $54,000  
California $50,000 Limit is $50,000 for a single person, $75,000 for a couple, $125,000 if 65 or older, or physically or mentally disabled, or $150,000 if 55 or older, and single earning under $15,000, or married and earning under $20,000.
Idaho $50,000  
Colorado $45,000 For occupied residence.
Washington $40,000  
Wisconsin $40,000  
Maine $35,000 Doubles for couples; $70,000 for 60 and over or disabled.
New Mexico $30,000 Doubles for couples.
Louisiana  $25,000 Five city acres or up to 200 acres elsewhere; full value exempt for one year due to medical expenses from terminal illness.
Oregon $25,000 $33,000 for couples; one city block or up to 160 acres elsewhere.
West Virginia $25,000  
Hawaii $20,000 Up to $30,000 for head of household or 65 and over; exempts up to one acre.
Utah $20,000 Doubles for couples.
Missouri $15,000  
Nebraska $12,500 Two city lots or up to 160 acres elsewhere.
Georgia $10,000 Doubles for couples.
New York $10,000  
North Carolina $10,000  
Wyoming $10,000 Doubles for couples.
Indiana $7,500 Maximum of $10,000 including personal property.
Alabama $5,000 Up to 160 acres; amount doubles for couples.
Delaware $5,000 Doubles for couples.
Illinois $5,000  
Kentucky $5,000  
Ohio $5,000  
South Carolina $5,000 Doubles for couples.
Tennessee $5,000 $7500 for couples.
Virginia $5,000 An additional $500 per dependent.
Michigan $3,500 One city lot or up to 40 acres elsewhere.
Arkansas $2,500 Up to 160 acres but may not be reduced to less than 80 acres no matter the value.
Maryland No Exemption  
New Jersey No Exemption  
Pennsylvania No Exemption  

Source: State Statutes. (full source)