A declared homestead is a legal form that you record with the Registrar-Recorder’s office. A declared homestead protects some of your equity for six months after you sell your home if the following three conditions are all true:

  1. You sell your home and buy another home within six months;
  2. The protected amount is used to buy another home;
  3. You record a homestead on the new home.

Only the home you live in qualifies for a homestead.

Who needs a declared homestead?

If you’ve been sued in court, lost, and have a large money judgment against you, a declared homestead can help.  If you sell your home, it protects some of the proceeds for six months. This gives you time to buy another home and record another declared homestead.

How much does a homestead protect?

The amount of the homestead exemption is the greater of the following:

  • The countywide median sale price for a single-family home in the calendar year prior to the calendar year in which the judgment debtor claims the exemption, not to exceed $600,000, OR
  • $300,000.

Note: These amounts adjust annually for inflation, beginning on January 1, 2022, based on the change in the annual California Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers for the prior fiscal year, published by the Department of Industrial Relations.

A homestead does not protect you against:

  • Foreclosure of your home by mortgage lender if you are behind on payments;
  • The enforcement of a mechanic’s lien;
  • A judgment for child or spousal support.

How do I file a declared homestead?

To file a declared homestead in California, you must:

  1. Obtain a declared homestead form from the county recorder’s office or download one from the county recorder’s website.
  2. Fill out the form and be sure to include the following information:
    • Your name and address.
    • The address of the property you are claiming as a homestead.
    • A statement that you occupy the property as your principal residence.
  3. Sign and date the form.
  4. Have the form notarized.
  5. Take the notarized form to the county recorder’s office and pay the recording fee.

The recording fee varies from county to county, but it is typically around $25. Check here for Contra Costa County fees.

Once you have filed a declared homestead, it will be recorded in the county’s public records. This will give notice to creditors that your home is protected by the homestead exemption.

Here are some additional tips for filing a declared homestead:

  • Be sure to file the form with the county recorder’s office in the county where your home is located.
  • Make sure that the form is complete and accurate.
  • Have the form notarized by a licensed notary public.
  • Pay the recording fee.
  • Keep a copy of the recorded homestead declaration for your records.

If you have any questions about filing a declared homestead, you should consult with an attorney. You can call us at (925) 472-8000.