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In order to qualify for a homestead exemption in Texas, you must meet the following criteria.
You must both own and occupy the property as of January 1st and claim it as your primary residence. If you own a property, but do not occupy it then you will not be granted the homestead exemption. A common trap for this is when a buyer of a property closes on the house in December and the previous owner negotiates a sale/leaseback until the end of January. The new owner owns the house before January 1st, but does not occupy it until after January 1st.
You can only claim a homestead on one property in a year. A common trap for this is when a couple separates, but is not yet legally divorced. If the spouse that moves out makes a purchase, then the couple must decide which party can have the homestead until the divorce is finalized.
To be eligible for a Homestead Exemption in Texas, you cannot be claiming a homestead for a property outside of the state of Texas.
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