As energy-extraction techniques develop, gas prices rise and energy companies expand operations into parts of the country new to energy prospecting, some homeowners are surprised to find out that they never had the mineral rights below their homes.
The mineral-rights disclosures to homebuyers, if given at all, are typically buried in contract language and not explicitly discussed by developers selling their new homes but retaining their underground mineral rights, Reuters reported.
“Split Estates” — those properties with differing above- and bel0w-ground owners — are common in some states with energy-rich histories like Texas and Oklahoma, but homebuyers in others don’t know to focus on it in a transaction and are surprised when energy companies start drilling near their homes.
The U.S.’s biggest homebuilder, D.R. Horton, has sold tens of thousands of homes in 15 states as split estates, Reuters found.