Lone Star State homebuyers need to know about property taxes and the homestead exemption. Here are a few key points to hold onto.

So you’re either in the process of buying a home or you’ve already completed your purchase. No matter the case, here’s what you need to know about the homestead exemption in the state of Texas.

How do you qualify for the homestead exemption? 

There are four qualifying factors:

  1. You must own the home.
  2. The home must be your primary residence, which excludes investment properties.
  3. You must have lived in the home through January 1. If you bought your home last year and have been living in it since then, you do qualify to file the homestead exemption in your county.
  4. The home address listed on your driver’s license must match the home’s address or your application will be rejected.

What are the benefits of the homestead exemption?

Keep in mind that I’m not an attorney. I will tell you, however, that the homestead exemption can prevent you from losing your home in certain legal situations. For more information on how that works, contact your attorney for guidance on the legal benefits the exemption provides.

As a homeowner with a homestead exemption, you get a 10% cap on appreciation, meaning that if home prices continue to increase by leaps and hounds like they have in the Austin metro area, you won’t pay more than 10% appreciation on your property taxes each year. In the long run, this can save you thousands of dollars.

“By taking just a few minutes to file, you can potentially save thousands each year on your property taxes.”

Some people get confused about paying their property tax below the home’s assessed value; they think that whatever the county determines their home’s value to be is the amount for which they can sell it. That’s completely separate. The county will determine the value of your home and that amount is the one used to determine what percentage of the tax rate you’ll be charged.  

So, if you come to find that the county is appreciating your home a lot more than the market is bearing, reach out to me. I’ll help you challenge the tax appraisers and get your property’s value (and therefore, your property tax) adjusted more appropriately.

When thinking about tax exemptions, remember that there are other exemptions beyond the homestead. For example, people with disabilities, senior citizens, and veterans can get additional discounts on their property taxes. Be sure to take some time and review the whole application so that you can determine what applies to you.

How do you apply for the homestead exemption?

You can go to your county tax assessor’s office and fill out an application. Your county should have an online application option, as well.

When should you apply?

The filing for the homestead exemption begins January 1 and ends April 30. Don’t forget to file by the deadline; by taking just a few minutes to file, you can save a lot of money each year on your property taxes.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’ll gladly guide you through the process.