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Ensuring Conveying of All Rights and Interests When Buying a Property

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Created on Monday, February 01, 2016
Updated on Monday, February 26, 2018
by Land Century

When you go to buy a piece of property, you’ll do so with the intent of actually owning the land after the purchase has occurred. A major issue is that many buyers do not ensure the conveying of all rights and interests in the land prior to the purchase.

When this happens, you may not own certain portions of the land, such as the minerals, or the person selling the land may not even have the right to sell the property to you.

What Land Rights Need to be Conveyed?

The rights to own the land should be conveyed at the time of purchasing the land. Surface rights mean that you own the “top” of the land. Essentially, you’ll own the grass, trees and any structures that are part of the land itself. All of the rights to these essential parts of the land will be owned once the title of the land has been transferred to your name.

The surface of the land is normally what will be passed to the buyer, but what about what lies underneath the surface; the valuable minerals for example?

What Land Interests Need to be Conveyed?

There are horror stories from property owners where oil companies have come onto their land and started drilling. What happens in this case is that the landowner does not realize that the oil company may own the mineral rights of the land. And this can mean that your land is literally ripped up so that the minerals can be accessed. Mineral rights may or may not be conveyed in the sale of the property. In some cases, the current owner of the property may not even own the mineral rights, and you would have to track down the owner of these rights to purchase them, if possible.

The specific conveyance that comes with your land will determine whether you own all of the mineral rights or specific minerals that are under the land. Most common minerals extracted from land, include:

* Gas
* Coal
* Oil

But the mineral owner may also be able to extract precious metals from the land. There are some rare cases when the mineral right transfer also includes surface rights. In this case, the mineral rights owner would be allowed to extract minerals from the surface, such as gravel.

When a property is originally divided and sold, the mineral rights and surface rights of the land are tied together. These two rights will be connected until they have been separated in ownership. Once these rights are separated, it is possible to sell them separately.

Owners separate mineral rights from land by:

* Conveying the land and mineral rights separately
* Conveying the mineral rights while keeping ownership of the land
* Retaining mineral rights, but conveying the land

If this conveyance happened a century ago, it will be very difficult to find the owner of the mineral rights and convince him or her to sell these rights back to you. The seller of the property can only convey what they own.
The good news is that minerals may not result in somebody digging up your land. In most cases, the only time a mineral owner will remove minerals is when they are in abundance. A good way to determine if you need the mineral rights is if your geographical location is known for oil, or:

* Gas
* Coal
* Gold
* Silver
* Other precious metals

If you are purchasing a piece of land in California, there may be gold on your property that you would want to retain the mineral rights of if found. There are also United States laws that regulate the mining and mineral rights to prohibit the owner of the minerals from damaging or interfering with improvements on the property, or the home or structure that exists on the property. A mineral owner will not extract minerals in a highly populated area because this would result in too much of a disturbance.

If you are concerned about the mineral rights for a particular piece of property, it’s important to contact a lawyer in your area that specializes in mineral law. It is a complex and difficult matter to untangle when trying to find out who owns the actual mineral rights of the land. There is also a chance that mineral royalties are conveyed separately than the actual ownership of the minerals.

Ensuring that All Rights and Interests are Conveyed

There are some occurrences where a person will try to sell land that does not belong to them. Scams can and do happen – especially when buying property in cash. This means that a person will try to act as the owner of the land, and in some cases, the person may even believe that he or she has the right to sell the land to you.

This can occur when an elderly person is placed in the hospital or someone is granted custody of the person’s finances and they attempt to sell the property. While land may be sold on the owner’s behalf, you need to make sure that the seller can legally sell the land to you.

How do you determine if the land is being sold legally?

First and foremost, check with the county assessor’s office to ensure that the person selling you the land is the rightful owner. You will also want to:

* View the land title or deed
* View the person’s identification to verify the name on the deed or title

Never hand over any money, no matter the sum, without first getting authorization that the seller is legitimate. Another great tip, especially for larger purchases, is to work with a real estate lawyer that will verify all of the ownership documents.

If you have the finances, working with a lawyer is the recommended option for any property purchase as it provides an added safeguard for your investment. The best way to determine if all rights to the property are conveyed when purchasing land is to utilize a real estate lawyer. If you do not have the means to do this, make sure that you view all of the appropriate documentation to ensure that you own both surface and mineral rights to the land.
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