Business & Economy
4:35 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

D.R. Horton Will Return Mineral Rights

A homebuilding company that had retained the mineral rights of about 850 newly built houses has agreed to return them to consumers.

D.R. Horton is one of the country's largest home builders. A spokeswoman for the state attorney general's office says the company has agreed to return the rights to residents who bought its homes in North Carolina. The company was hanging on to the right to mine and drill on many lots. It is legal to buy or sell the mineral rights of a property, but buyers began complaining they weren't fully informed at closing that they wouldn't own what lay beneath their homes.

They complained even more after state lawmakers passed a bill to legalize natural gas fracking. Last month, the company informed the attorney general's office that consumers could ask for those rights back, but they wouldn't be returned automatically. Yet in at least one case, Horton had already automatically returned the mineral rights of a handful of homeowners in an upscale Durham subdivision. It's not clear yet exactly when Horton plans to correct the deeds to hundreds of other homes it sold without the mineral rights.