As readers of this blog will soon learn, I am a fan of the NPR show Marketplace. On Monday night, the broadcast was heavy on real property stories.
One story, "Foreclosure Focus Of Protest, Talks," dealt with an issue that Michael L. Rich wrote about recently on this blog ("Time To Pay The Piper? Large Banks May Face Big Fines For Mortgage Practices"). State attorneys general are aggressively pursuing some of the nation's biggest banks in connection with alleged improprieties in their mortgage foreclosure paperwork. The NPR story notes that the attorneys general and other regulators could look for help in this regard to the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("CFPB"), but the CFPB currently lacks clear enforcement authority (not to mention a director that has been confirmed by the Senate), so its role in the crisis remains uncertain.
Another story, "Homeowners Try To Protect Their Property From Oil Boom," hits slightly less close to home but was no less interesting. This one dealt with the concept of "split estates," whereby homeowners own the property where their house sits, but not the rights to the minerals found in the land under their homes. The problem generally arises in the western United States where the government historically sold ranch land for development, but retained the mineral rights under the land. It has now become a problem for some homeowners who are concerned about the disruptions that exploration under their homes could cause and the potential environmental and health impacts that mining could have on the area.