Subsurface Rights: What Exactly Do I Own?

So you’ve just bought some property, congratulations. Under the sale of a fee simple estate, it is common for most landowners in the United States to own both the surface and subsurface rights of their property. In this article, we are going to define subsurface rights and cover everything you need to know about what you own below your property.

Surface Rights vs. Subsurface Rights

Surface rights are extremely easy to identify and understand. A property’s surface rights entitle the owner for use of everything above the ground within the property boundaries. This includes structures like buildings and fences, as well as trees and water access rights. Subsurface rights, as the name suggests, refer to the ownership of the land below a property’s surface.

Are Subsurface Rights Real Property?

Subsurface rights are considered a real property, just like any other real estate asset. Subsurface rights can be owned independently or divided and shared between several parties. Most commonly, subsurface rights constitute ownership of mineral rights.

Mineral Rights

If you own your property’s mineral rights, then there are a few ways that you can utilize your asset. Mineral rights can be sold or leased in a split estate. Here, you can either sell your mineral rights to an interested party or lease your mineral rights to an oil and gas company.

Why are they Valuable?

As suggested above, there may be many people interested in purchasing or leasing your subsurface and mineral rights. This is because they present an opportunity for you to sell your asset in one lump sum or receive a portion of resource sales.

In the United States, subsurface rights are considered valuable for the precious minerals that can be extracted and sold. Most commonly in the United States, oil and natural gas are the most sought after subterranean resources.

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