In North Carolina, Home Builders Can Sell You A Home, Then Frack in Your Back Yard

I am interested in recent news about builder DR Horton (based in Texas) keeping mineral rights in land and homes they sell to customers in the Triangle area. DR Horton sells the home and land to the customer but keeps the right to drill or dig on the lot for minerals–natural gas, oil, gold, copper, etc.–more than 500 feet below the surface. Here, they may be most interested in hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

We learned in law school that this practice has been common out west for many decades. However, it is new to North Carolina. If you bought one of these lots, DR Horton would have the legal right to put a drilling rig or fracking equipment in your yard or even in your living room (destroying your house in the process, the house DR Horton built). Seems crazy, doesn’t it?

However, DR Horton is putting this catch in their contracts, so it is legal. In real estate law, the rule is buyer beware, meaning it is essential for a buyer to read the contract carefully (and get legal advice if needed) before signing the contract. After the contract is signed, it may be too late.

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