Stephanie McGowan's Blog
The Massachusetts Homestead Law is a very useful law that was put into place as a protection of homeowners’ property. The law may protect your home against the claims of creditors. The act applies to your home if:
- You live in the home or plan to live in it
- You use the home or plan to use the home as your primary residence
Things To Know About The Law
It does protect manufactured and mobile home
Homestead protection does not stop your home from being foreclosed on in the event that you don’t pay your mortgage
Declaration Of Homestead
You must declare that your property is a homestead property in the state of Massachusetts. This declaration will protect the equity value of your home from creditors. The equity of your home is what the “fair market value” of the home is. To calculate this value, find out what the value of your home is, then subtract all home equity loans, liens, and mortgages that you have against the house. The number that’s left is what the equity value of your home is.
When a Declaration Of Homestead is in place, you’re protected from creditors who would otherwise force you to use your equity so that you you can repay the debts that are owed. Without this protection, creditors can foreclose on your home. The only creditors that a Homestead does not protect you from are home loan companies, the IRS and legal child support obligations.
When the loan for your home is in good standing and a Homestead is in place in Massachusetts, the following applies:
A creditor cannot auction your home if you, other owners of your home, any family members, or any family members who move into your home at a future date live there. This means that even in the event of your death, these people will all be protected from creditors taking value from the property while they are living on the property.
Any family members who have debts and are living in the house are also protected under the Homestead Act in Massachusetts.
$125,000 is automatically protected.
A Homestead Declaration needs to be filed for up to $500,000 of protection to be initiated.
How A Declaration Of Homestead Is Filed
You’ll need to go to the Registry Of Deeds in the county where the property is located in Massachusetts to file a Declaration Of Homestead. The document will need to be notarized and there is a fee associated with filing. You may be asked if you’d like to file the Homestead Protection during the purchase agreement signing for your Massachusetts home. Note that if a lien was put on your property before the Homestead Declaration is filed, you are not protected.
Talk to your real estate attorney and realtor for more details and information on how to file a Homestead Declaration when you purchase your Massachusetts home.
Safety hazardsSome of the most common safety hazards to your home are completely preventable. Hazards like fire and carbon monoxide are both easily averted by safe practices when it comes to cooking, electronics, and using open flames of any kind. Follow these tips to protect yourself from fire:
- Install fire and CO detectors throughout your home. Set a reminder in your calendar to check the batteries yearly or however long is recommended on the detector.
- Make sure your family knows basic cooking an electronics safety such as how to properly use ovens, microwaves, and power outlets.
- Teach your family the proper use of fire extinguishers and have a fire safety week at your home where you cover the aforementioned topics, as well as how to evacuate the house in case of a fire.
BurglaryAccording to the FBI, break-ins are the number one most common threat to a home. There is a break-in every 15 seconds in America. Follow these tips to prevent break-ins at your home:
- Don't leave spare keys outside your home or on your porch. Similarly, don't leave spare keys on or in your vehicle.
- Make sure your doors and windows lock properly. Burglars will often move past a home if they cannot easily enter through the front or back doors. Installing a deadbolt will add to the integrity of your doors.
- Don't keep valuable items like laptops, televisions, or expensive sound systems in plain sight from the road.
- Change the locks when you move into a new home and keep track of the number of key copies that are made.
- Keep a fireproof, waterproof, heavy safe in your home with important or dangerous items stored inside. This includes jewelry, important documents, and firearms & ammunition.
- Get to know your neighbors and agree to keep an eye on one another's homes, especially when one of you is away. Install motion sensor lights and find out if your neighbor uses them. Similarly, have them pick up your mail when you're away so it doesn't seem obvious that your house is empty.
The Role of the internet and technologyTechnology can be a useful tool in making your home safer or it can be an easy way to advertise that you are vulnerable to a break-in. Follow these tips when it comes to technology-related security:
- Don't post pictures of valuable items on social media
- Don't advertise to your social media "friends" when you are going away. This could be an invitation to break in.
- Installing a security system or even some dummy cameras and alarms can be a great deterrent.
- Use encrypted cloud storage to keep your data safe. That includes copies of birth certificates, social security cards, family photos, wills, and more.
Living in the heart of a big city puts you moments away from major sports competitions, live theater, five-star restaurants and top paying businesses. Rent or buy a house in a major city and you won't have to worry about transportation. Cities like Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Newark are connected via trains, subways, bus lines and international airports.
It's not all fun and games at the heart of a big city
Many people who live in these cities don't own a car. That's where you could definitely save money by renting an apartment or buying a house in the heart of a big city. Unfortunately, there may be more ways that you could lose money if you rent or own in these popular areas. To see if you're ready to head for the heart of town, consider these residential money guzzlers.
- City taxes - Ask around. You'll find that taxes in big cities are nothing to wink at. This includes property and income taxes. You could easily save four to five percent or more by moving outside a major city.
- Housing costs - Rents and mortgages are generally higher at the heart of a major city than they are in towns 20 or more miles away from downtown, uptown and midtown areas. A time when this isn't the case is if you move to a beach front home. Apartments and houses at the heart of cities like New York, Chicago and Miami are not cheap. You could save one hundred dollars or more a month on an apartment and thousands on a house if you choose a home away from hot spots.
- Lower food prices - Dining at a restaurant can cost less if you dine further away from town.
- Taxis - This includes traditional and newer taxi services like Uber and Lyft. Depending on how far you are going, hailing a taxi in a major city could run you $20 or more to travel less than 15 miles.
- Live entertainment - It's hard to turn away from live stage plays, outstanding jazz performances, indoor concerts and the chance to watch a professional sports game from box seats or the front row. Getting away from these entertainment temptations could encourage you to find fun ways to entertain yourself at home. It could also save you the $100 or more that you'd spend on a ticket and refreshments at a single live entertainment event in the heart of the city.
- Clothes - You certainly won't have to hunt for boutiques, malls and upscale shops if you move to the heart of a big city. Regularly shop at these stores and you could be out several hundred a year.
Moving further away from the center of a major town could save you money. You could yield bigger savings if you move to an area near public transportation. Taking public transportation can save you gas costs. It could also save you auto maintenance costs. Pull this off and you could save hundreds or more a year. You could also save thousands on a new house.