Homestead
Homestead

HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION

In Arizona, every person age eighteen (18) or older who resides in the state, whether married or single, may hold as “homestead” exempt from attachment, execution and forced sale, certain property worth one hundred fifty thousand dollars ($150,000.00) or less.  Exempt from attachment, execution and forced sale means that the property may not be seized by a creditor.  The property may not be sold by the Sheriff, and the resident may not be removed from the property against his or her will.

The value of the homestead is the value of the person’s interest, not the market value of the property.  For example, if the market value of the home was four hundred thousand dollars ($400,000.00) and there was a mortgage of two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000.00), the owner’s equity interest in the property would be one hundred fifty thousand dollars ($150,000.00) which is the maximum amount of the homestead exemption.  Thus, the home could not be seized or sold by a creditor other than the mortgage holder.

If the property was worth four hundred fifty thousand dollars ($450,000.00) and there was a mortgage of two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000.00), the owner’s equity interest in the property would be two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000.00).  The excess fifty thousand dollars ($50,000.00) (over and above the homestead amount) would be subject to the claims of creditors.  In this example, a creditor could force a sale of the home, but the first two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000.00) would go to the mortgage company, the next one hundred fifty thousand dollars ($150,000.00) would go to the owner as the homestead amount, and the balance would go to the creditor.

The property which may be claimed as a homestead may be:

The person’s interest in real property in one compact body upon which exists a dwelling house in which the person resides; or

The person’s interest in one condominium or cooperative in which the person resides; or

A mobile home in which the person resides; or

A mobile home in which the person resides plus the land upon which that mobile home is located (if the mobile home owner also owns the land).

Only one (1) homestead exemption may be held by a married couple or by a single person.  The homestead exemption automatically attaches to the person’s interest in identifiable cash proceeds from the voluntary or involuntary sale of the property.  The homestead exemption continues for eighteen (18) months in the identifiable cash proceeds or until the person establishes a new homestead with the proceeds, whichever period is shorter.

A person who is entitled to a homestead exemption holds that exemption by operation of law and no written claim or recording is required.  Under former law, to be entitled to a homestead exemption a person had to record a proper claim of homestead exemption.  Now, the exemption is automatic, unless the person has more than one (1) property to which the homestead could reasonably apply.  In that situation, a creditor may require the person to designate which property is protected by the homestead exemption.

There are other rules and regulations that apply to Arizona homestead exemptions.