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Washington Homestead Laws

Homestead Laws In The U.S.

The Homestead Act of 1862 brought about significant and lasting changes to westward expansion efforts in the U.S. It gave citizens the opportunity to claim free government land under certain circumstances. During the homesteading era over 1.6 million people claimed and settled more than 270 million acres of public land.

Under the terms of this act, by paying modest fees, a head of household could gain legal title to a 160-acre tract of public land simply by clearing it, improving it and living on it for five (5) years.

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.

Washington Homestead Laws

Washington homestead laws allow a maximum exemption of $125,000, but don't specify a maximum acreage.

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."

Other Exceptions To The Homestead Exemption

The following types of debts/obligations are also exceptions:

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

Code Section 6.13.010, 030
Max. Property Value That May Be Designated 'Homestead' $125,000
Maximum Acreage (Urban) -
Maximum Acreage (Rural) -

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

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