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Mineral Rights

In Idaho, especially North Idaho, there has always been some confusion among Buyers over Mineral Rights, what properties come with them, and come without them. Here is what I know, and what I think is the reality of them.

In this State, Realtors use forms that are made by the State of Idaho’s Real Estate Commission. The one used for a sale of a home is an RE-21, “Real Estate Purchase and Sale Agreement”. On page 2, item 6, it specifically states that:

“Mineral Rights: Any and all Mineral Rights appurtenant to the property are included in and part of the sale of this property unless otherwise agreed to by the parties in writing”.

Simple, all properties come with Mineral Rights, right?

Not really.

Here’s the “rest of the story”:

When you buy a property in Idaho, any property, it’s not the Real Estate Commission or anyone else who guarantees your purchase, the guarantor is the Title Company you use, in the form of Preliminary Commitment for Title Insurance. So, you buy 10 acres, and IF you use a Title Company & buy Title Insurance (in this State the Seller typically pays for it & all of my Buyers will use a Title Co) than the Title company insures the validity of the transaction, meaning that they guarantee that what you are buying is what you think you are buying, and that it is lien free, and that any “rights” will go with it. Following me?

Good, now, the big surprise:

NO Title Company in Idaho will guarantee the mineral rights on any property in this State, completely. Sounds terrible, huh?

Here’s where a little history is helpful, I think.

In Idaho, we have a few spots where Gold & Silver were found in abundance, and over time, people claimed rights to the properties’ Mineral Rights, and reserved them unto themselves when they sold some of these properties. An example, so you understand how this worked:

Bob bought 100 acres in 1904, sold it in 1911, & reserved himself the rights to the minerals on the property in perpetuity (forever).

Our gold rush & silver rush in North Idaho were all located in & above the Silver Valley, east of Coeurd’alene. In those areas, large deposits of both Gold (The Empire State building in New York, built with gold from the Guggenheim Family’s dredge in the Silver Valley) and silver were found & have been mined for a hundred years or so. Over that time frame, in many of those areas, mineral rights have been reserved by people on parcels of land that they owned.

Also, in Bonners Ferry, where Mr. Bonner became famous with his Ferry, there are some properties that have mineral rights reserved. The primary reason for this was that folks who were going North to mine in British Columbia’s gold fields came through Bonners Ferry, and some of them literally thought that since gold was found just across the border in BC, it MUST be here, too. So some of them claimed minerals, but none of them found any….

My conclusion-

Mineral Rights are not guaranteed on any property in Idaho.

But…there are no oil or natural gas mines here, and the Silver & Gold are well known in terms of location, like I said before, the Silver Valley, & Upper Coeurd’alene River. Past that, there aren’t any minerals TO mine for. I’ve never seen or heard of anyone having any issues over someone deciding that they were going to exercise a mineral right.

For that matter, with the price of gold as high as it is, companies that do mine for it have made a serious habit out of buying property/s in the areas where it has proven reserves. Every time I’ve come across a property that has a mineral right reserved, the company or people that reserved it are either deceased or the company is closed, and gone, most for 70 years or more.

On the Title Companies, the reason they don’t reserve rights is because in the past, especially early in the last century, people would magically come out of the woodwork with pieces of paper claiming a mineral right on a piece of property, and the Title Companies had to fight it. Now, they just don’t guarantee the mineral rights, but in reality it hasn’t had any effect on any of the thousands of people who own property here. If there’s no gold or silver, not too many people will want to mine it.

I think mineral rights are a huge issue in states where a lot of minerals are to be found, oil in the Dakotas & Texas, gas in many other parts of the country, for sure. Fortunately, and in some ways unfortunately, in North Idaho, we have few minerals, and the ones we do have are again, well known in terms of location and quantity, making mineral rights here a pretty insignificant issue.

 

 

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