The rights that accompany real estate can be summarized in the term belongings. When real property is sold, the corresponding rights are normally sold together with it. However, they can be sold separately and may be limited by past transactions. In addition to knowing the boundaries of the land and what items are considered real property (accessories versus personal property), homeowners and lenders must also understand what rights are being transferred along with that parcel of real estate.

Simple rate property includes other accessories such as access rights, surface rights, subsurface rights, mineral rights, some water rights, and limited air rights. One way to understand the rights that accompany real estate is to imagine the property as an inverted pyramid, with its tip in the center of the earth and its base extending skyward. An owner has rights to the surface of the land within the property boundaries, plus everything below or on the surface within the pyramid. This includes subsurface mineral and oil rights, and certain water and air rights. Sometimes air rights are regulated by each state, allowing air traffic and water rights can differ from state to state.

However, the owner may transfer only some of the property rights to someone else. For example, a property owner can sell the mineral rights to a property, but retain ownership of the farm. Later, when the land is sold, the mining rights will most likely remain with the mining company (depending on the wording of the contract in question), even though the rest of the package of land rights is transferred to the new owner. The new owner is bound by the previous owner’s past transaction and cannot sell these mineral rights to another party, nor transfer them in a future sale of the land.

A lender should know if the entire bundle of rights (single fee) is being transferred or if there are any restrictions or past transactions that may limit the current transfer of ownership in any way. This is important because it can have a great effect on the value of the real property. The transfer of access rights to place a sidewalk in front of a subdivision lot would generally not have a significant impact on the value of a land. Transferring mineral rights to a mining company, as in the example above, would likely affect value.

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