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Maine Homestead Laws

The Homestead Act of 1862 accelerated the settlement of the western territory by granting adult heads of families 160 acres of surveyed public land for a minimal filing fee and 5 (five) years of continuous residence on that land. During the homesteading era over 1.6 million people claimed and settled more than 270 million acres of public land.

Homestead Laws Today

Today, each state has its own homestead laws, which can protect a certain portion of the property owned by the head of a household from being confiscated and sold to satisfy debts. Homestead protection laws are intended to prevent homeowners from becoming homeless in the event of extreme financial hardship. Specifically, individuals in danger of losing their home to foreclosure may declare a limited portion of property as a "homestead" and thus off-limits to unsecured creditors.

What Qualifies As a Homestead?

A homestead is any residential property, including a co-op or condominium, owned or held in a revocable living trust and occupied as the owner's permanent residence or owned by a cooperative housing corporation and occupied as a permanent residence by resident who is a qualifying shareholder.

The homestead exemption also applies to the proceeds from the sale of any of this property for six (6) months after you receive the proceeds.

What Does a Homestead Not Include?

A homestead does not include any real property used solely for commercial purposes.

Maine Homestead Laws

In Maine, the homestead exemption has up to

  • Up to $47,000 in equity protection over the amount of a mortgage;
  • Up to $95,000 if there are minor dependents in the home;
  • $95,000 if the debtor is over 60 years of age or has a physical or mental disability (this amount may double if there are joint debtors in this category).

Keep in mind, the homestead exemption doesn't protect you from secured creditors such as your mortgage holder. If you don't make your mortgage payments, your lender can foreclose and sell your house at auction to pay off the loan despite a "homestead exemption."

The basics of Maine homestead protection laws are listed in the following chart. See Prevent and Manage Foreclosure FAQs for more information

Code Section §4422
Max. Property Value That May Be Designated 'Homestead' Protects between $47,500 and $190,000 of your home equity
Maximum Acreage (Urban) N/A
Maximum Acreage (Rural) N/A

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Maine real estate attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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