Objection. Compound question.

But the answers are:

  • A phrase used to describe rights in real property; and
  • Because the bundle of sticks is valuable and each of the individual sticks has value.

I first heard about the “bundle of sticks” when I was at law school. My property professor talked about the bundle of sticks when describing the variety of rights that a property owner has:  rights to what’s underground, rights to the ground, rights to the air. I didn’t appreciate the usefulness of the concept until I’d been practicing as a dirt litigator—sorry, real estate litigator—for several years.

Each stick represents a different property right, and depending on the words in the deed or other document by which you acquire title, you may be entitled to exercise all, or only some, of the rights associated with a piece of real estate.

Now why is this important? The amount you pay for a piece of property may vary depending on what rights—sticks—are present and what rights have been retained by the grantor/seller. For example, the grantor/seller might retain the right to extract minerals. You don’t have the entire bundle of sticks and your property could, conceivably, be worth less as a result.

So when buying real estate, be sure to find out if you’re getting the entire bundle of sticks. And when you own property, beware when the government, or a private company with the power of eminent domain, wants to take one of your rights. Don’t let them “stick” it to you.


Image courtesy of Oliver Schöndorfer under Flickr Creative Commons License