The Nevada Homestead Exemption
The Nevada Homestead Act doesn't mean you can squat on 160 acres of public land and eventually own it, rather it is a means to protect equity in your home against seizure or forced sale by general creditor claims and judgments that are entered against you. The Nevada Homestead Act is one of the gifts the Constitution of the State of Nevada gives to homeowners, but surprisingly few people take advantage of it.
If you have medical bills, credit card debt, business or personal loans, a judgment from an accident or other cause, etc., you can protect the equity in your primary residential property up to $550,000 in Nevada by filing a Homestead Exemption. The key word is equity, the market value of your home less any debt secured against it. The property must be your primary residence. It can be a condo or even a mobile home on land you don't own. Note that if you have established alloidal title the exemption extends to all of your equity.
A Homestead exemption does not protect you from a forced sale due to nonpayment of a mortgage (foreclosure), unpaid taxes, home equity loans, Home Owners Association/Condo fees, or work that was done on your home. Also, be aware that Federal Bankruptcy Court can modify the protection of the Nevada Homestead Exemption for some credit card debt.
The Homestead Exemption application can be made by husband or wife, or both, or a single person. A recent change by the Legislature allows protection for individuals that put their property in a trust provided the trust if for the benefit of the person or persons who declared the homestead. Another interesting quirk is that Tenants in Common may declare homestead rights on their respective estate and enjoy homestead rights and privileges. Note that they are, however, subject to the rights of their cotenants to enforce partition of such common property.
The Homestead Exemption is easy to implement and free except for the cost of recording the document. You can get the form online at the Nevada Real Estate Division site, http://red.state.nv.us/forms/654.pdf, or at your County Recorder's office or website. You will need to gather some information as the form requires your Assessor's Parcel Number and legal description. If a mobile residence you'll need the Assessor's Manufactured Home ID Number, and manufactured home description. You can get this information online, or call your real estate Agent for assistance.
With that information, completing the form is simple. Check the appropriate boxes, provide your name and the address of the property, and sign it in front of a Notary. After it is completed take it to the recorder for recording and, voila, you have a Homestead Exemption.
Our Advice: We recommend that every property owner file a Declaration of Homestead on their primary residence. It is easy, of nominal cost, and can protect you from the unforeseen and unknown that could wipe out your life's hard work. Few things in life are so easy, cost so little, and return so much as a Declaration of Homestead. Think of it like an insurance policy - you wouldn't be caught without it. Take a moment and get it done. Consult your attorney if you have specific questions about your circumstances.
The word Homestead conjures up images of settlers helping to settle the West and getting free land for their efforts. This is different thought they both use the word Homestead. When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs... Experience is Priceless!
Lisa Wetzel and Jim Valentine are real estate agents with RE/MAX Realty Affiliates in Gardnerville. They are short sale and foreclosure specialists and certified distressed property experts.
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