Homebuilder D.R. Horton plans to notify hundreds of North Carolina home buyers next week that they have until Sept. 28 to get back the mineral rights the company took from their properties.
The Texas company will require that North Carolina home buyers submit a written request by the fast-approaching deadline if they want their mineral rights back. The timing will give customers about one month to respond or waive their mineral rights through inaction.
D.R. Horton's latest step to defuse a simmering controversy continues to trouble state regulators. One issue: Inconspicuous envelopes could be misplaced by the customer or mistaken for junk mail and thrown out. The N.C. Attorney General would like that at the very least, the envelope to be clearly marked as urgent and requiring a prompt reply.
D.R. Horton is under investigation by state AG and N.C. Real Estate Commission after the company kept for itself mineral rights from 850 homes it sold in the state in the past several years.
The two agencies plan to discuss problems with D.R. Horton's draft letter with the company, but state officials have said they don't have the legal authority to force the company to restore the mineral rights to customers.
State officials have told D.R. Horton they would prefer for the company to return the mineral rights, rather than placing the burden on customers.
"We can't order them to do anything," said AG spokeswoman Noelle Talley. "One of the options, we've said, is they can just give the mineral rights back."