Home → Real estate transactions → Do you own the ground under your house?

You know that buying a home means you own the structure. You also know that you own the land around it, whether that’s a small city lot or a massive rural space with hundreds of acres. Everything between the property lines is yours.

But how far does this ownership extend? How far down does it go, for instance? Do you have a right to everything, such as minerals, that may be found underground on your land?

Typically, you do. The general idea is that you own everything within the property lines and that you can extend them upward and downward essentially infinitely.

However, exceptions exist. For instance, there have been cases of development companies working to sell off the mineral rights to energy companies. They then sell the homes, but the contracts specifically state that the energy company owns the mineral rights to the land itself. If a buyer assumes that they hold those rights and does not properly review the contract, they may sign an agreement that they do not really agree with after all.

Are these cases rare? Sure, they are. But they also show why it’s so important to go over the contracts carefully, to read every word with your legal team and to keep from signing anything until you know full well what it entails.

After all, if you indicate that you read the contract and you sign it, it then becomes legally binding. You may note later that you didn’t really read it, but you already signed your rights away. This is not a mistake you want to make, and you need to know how to avoid it.