Changing the Price of CDS Land

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Patroklus Murakami
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Changing the Price of CDS Land

Post by Patroklus Murakami »

I'd like to request that the LRA put the following Bill on the agenda for the next RA meeting:

-------------------------------
Promoting Land Sales Bill

Rationale: The CDS Estate currently has a number of unsold parcels which have remained unsold for several weeks. The current method of pricing for land sales may no longer be appropriate given the state of land sales in Second Life. This proposes an experiment where the CDS tries selling land for L$1 as the purchase price to see if it encourages land sales.
  • 1. For the remainder of March and April 2015, the Chancellor will set land for sale at L$1. This applies to all land which is currently set for sale and any new plots which are reclaimed or abandoned during the experimental period.

    2. The experiment will be reviewed by the Chancellor at the end of the experimental period and either a) a proposal for a permanent reduction in sale prices will be presented to the RA or b) land sale prices will revert to their previous levels. If no action is taken by the RA, land sales will go back to their previous levels.

    3. This only applies to land in the five current regions - Neufreistadt, Colonia Nova, Alpine Meadow, Monastery and Locus Amoenus. This does not set a precedent for land sales in any new regions.
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Re: Changing the Price of CDS Land

Post by Sudane Erato »

The key issue here is determining whether those who buy the parcels for L$1 also immediately feed the tier box. Of course, that's always our problem, getting newcomers to understand that feeding the tier box must accompany any purchase of land. Embarking on this experiment just highlights that issue. If we find that there appears little difference in the rate of tier box feeding, then I would judge the experiment a success, as the actual revenue from land sales is not a significant part of our income.


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Re: Changing the Price of CDS Land

Post by Widget Whiteberry »

If our goal is to build stable community, this seems premature to me. Some things to consider:
How long would this experiment last?
Can the land be resold at any price?
What is the impact on citizens selling parcels at the amount they paid?

If cost reduction seems (based on?) desirable, why start with such a drastic reduction?
Since smaller parcels seem to be attractive, we might try breaking up several of the larger parcels.
We really ought to create and launch a marketing plan.
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Re: Changing the Price of CDS Land

Post by Rosie Gray »

I agree that changing the land price, or how land is divided up is not going to make much difference to attracting new citizens until we have a comprehensive, strategic marketing plan in place.

Also, I'd expect that if the land prices are dropped to $1L, that there would be a requirement for a minimum length of time paid on the tier - say 3 or 4 months. Otherwise, since citizenship is based on owning land, some people might just buy a parcel for $1L to be able to vote.
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Re: Changing the Price of CDS Land

Post by Coop »

Now lets make sure we're not mixing our metaphors. The sale price can be 1L, but you still have to pay the full normal tier. What I see the 1 buck sale doing is basically doing what most estates grid-wide do now, that is not charge what amounts to a rental tax on the initial purchase.
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Re: Changing the Price of CDS Land

Post by Sudane Erato »

Coop wrote:Now lets make sure we're not mixing our metaphors. The sale price can be 1L, but you still have to pay the full normal tier. What I see the 1 buck sale doing is basically doing what most estates grid-wide do now, that is not charge what amounts to a rental tax on the initial purchase.
Exactly.

In New England, we prohibit the resale of parcels. One buys a parcel only from the EO for the exact price of one month of tier... which of course pays the first month of tier. In essence the parcel is free. But the purchase price forces the beginning of tier payments... at the regular price.

I would suggest for the CDS the system we use in New England... but... it would be administratively unwieldy to do here, as we have a much higher change in parcel ownership in the CDS, and a lot of manual work must be done to make the system work. But it is certainly the case that across the grid, parcel "purchase" is becoming a thing of the past. EO's want tier-paying residents... period.

It's too bad that LL still doesn't "get" this, years after it has become economic reality. They still charge an incredible US$1000 for the purchase of a new sim... as well as the immediate US$295 monthly tier. Call it the $1000 penalty to an individual who desires the privilege of paying them $295/month.


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Re: Changing the Price of CDS Land

Post by Josie Fotherington »

Sudane Erato wrote:In New England, we prohibit the resale of parcels. One buys a parcel only from the EO for the exact price of one month of tier... which of course pays the first month of tier. In essence the parcel is free. But the purchase price forces the beginning of tier payments... at the regular price.
Skybeam Estates does that too. I love the concept, but you are right in that it's land-management intensive. You need a dedicated land management team with online records that everyone can see and edit. CDS' land management is still too....well....hosed. :-)
Sudane Erato wrote:It's too bad that LL still doesn't "get" this, years after it has become economic reality. They still charge an incredible US$1000 for the purchase of a new sim... as well as the immediate US$295 monthly tier. Call it the $1000 penalty to an individual who desires the privilege of paying them $295/month.
Agreed! I love the For Sale By Owner group. The estate owners I used to work for only ever bought their sims "used". Yes, you still have to pay a purchase price, but paying $200 - $400 USD is a whole lot nicer than paying $1000 USD! Typically I'd recommend this method of sim acquisition, but I am not sure if I would for CDS. Again, it's land-management work intensive. You need someone to watch the group like a hawk and then leap on a sim within seconds.

I wonder how many people still buy sims directly from LL? I'm sure some still do, I'm just curious to know how many it is and how much those numbers have changed over the last few years.
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Re: Changing the Price of CDS Land

Post by Sudane Erato »

Josie Fotherington wrote: Skybeam Estates does that too. I love the concept, but you are right in that it's land-management intensive. You need a dedicated land management team with online records that everyone can see and edit. CDS' land management is still too....well....hosed. :-)
I'm not sure what "hosed" means... and it's not really a matter of online records which everyone can see and edit (which would be easy enough to do). The problem goes back to the fundamental disconnect between the "yellow map" system of parcel ownership and the mechanisms of tier payment and record-keeping.

When LL developed the idea of privately owned parcels in SL, they launched the essence, the underpining, of the SL economy. The entire universe of revenue in SL is rooted in land and the prims it supports. It was a genius concept from Philip Rosedale and his group and has enabled the vastly multi-layered economy of SL in a way that LL has never understood. But there was always a small problem, and that was that, unless you were paying for your land directly to LL, for which ample mechanism had been put in place (of course), it was difficult for land owners to "re-sell" or "rent" their parcels of land. The process of re-selling was easy enough, but collecting monthly tier for more than a few tenant-holders was administratively difficult... it all had to be done manually.

Soon entrepreneurs, most notably Hippo Technologies, developed their hugely popular rental system (which we use now in the CDS). But when they developed this system, they developed it for owners who wished to "rent" parcels to other residents, rather than for private sim owners who wished to engage in "yellow map" sales of their parcels. Why?... probably for several reasons. A "Rental" system could be used anywhere on the grid, both on the mainland and on private sims, while on the mainland an "owner" cannot also sell a parcel and still own it, as is possible on a private sim. Also, and this is technically important, it was not until recently possible to uniquely identify a parcel... the computer code of SL (called LSL) did not include recognition of the unique identifiers of parcels (and everything else in SL) called the UUID. So writing an application that would enable private sim owners to fully manage their "sold" parcels was impossible until a few years ago. However, there is still no such commercially available system.

To get back to the point here. In order to "bind together" the parcel-purchase action with the tier-payment action, third party software would be needed that doesn't exist. Implementing the idea of "giving land away for free" has as a critical component that people pay at least one month tier when they take possession, which is why in New England I price the land at one month tier. But after they buy, I must then manually set up a tier box for them to pay further months tier to (I don't use Hippo in New England). Alternately, in the CDS, when someone purchased a parcel which had been set for sale for one month of tier, an official would need to then manually set the tier box of that parcel for one month of free tier (or 2 months... or whatever amount of time the initial purchase price provided to the buyer). This is entirely possible... but labor intensive, since SO MANY parcels of land change hands in the CDS each month. THAT is really the obstacle to this otherwise very good idea that Pat presents.

I hope this clarifies something about our land management system. It's not ideal... Timo Gufler and I have had many discussions about projects to improve it. But, apart from abandoning the "yellow map" system of land ownership entirely and converting to a parcel rental system, I think our system is as good as we can manage with available tools.


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Re: Changing the Price of CDS Land

Post by Coop »

Sudane,

While I dare not put words in Josie's mouth, I think she meant the physical management, not the rental or the sales.

When I was an EM for a private estate, I set parcels for sale, I cleared parcels, I cleared prims, I banned squatters...I did a lot of stuff, because the idea was if I was trustworthy enough to become an EM, there was a degree of trust that came with it to do things in the name of the estate owner.

That is not the case here, where the EMs have no autonomy, that only a couple of people have authority to set parcels for sale or to reclaim them. This isn't the case of the LL mechanics, but the way that CDS has chosen to interpret the rules the people operate under.
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Re: Changing the Price of CDS Land

Post by Josie Fotherington »

Coop wrote:While I dare not put words in Josie's mouth, I think she meant the physical management, not the rental or the sales.
My husband knows me well. :-)

I understand the "why" behind the need for using a 3rd party tool like Hippo for tier collection. There is no tool in any SL user client, which means there is no capability, for tier collection.

What I mean by "hosed" is the lack of consistent people, procedures and process behind land sales in CDS. I can boil it down to one sentence: The process changes depending on the Chancellor.

Some Chancellors preferred to handle all land transactions, both Hippo stuff and parcels sales, themselves alone. Some Chancellors delegated more, allowing some estate managers the authority to handle land sales and Hippo.

The results are that very few people truly understand the full process. Obviously you do Sudane. It appears that Lilith does. There are probably a few people, myself included, that have the knowledge and skills to do it, but who are not estate managers.

I love the idea of applying the parcel purchase price to tier, but that requires 1. someone who knows Hippo inside and out and 2. Constant communication between the people who have the authority to set up Hippo and land sales.

I haven't seen much of either, however I will allow that I've only observed two administrations.
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Re: Changing the Price of CDS Land

Post by Rosie Gray »

There are other people who know how to manage the CDS land sales and Hippo boxes, myself being one as I did so for both Trebor and Tor when they were Chancellors. It would be possible to implement the $1L sale and manage the tier as suggested, which is somewhat labour intensive, but it does require that there be enough people who have the skills be entrusted to do so. It's rather a lot to put onto one person, as Sudance notes; land changes a lot in the CDS. Lilith has been doing a stellar job.
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Re: Changing the Price of CDS Land

Post by Patroklus Murakami »

My proposal is to keep this as simple as possible. We have a tendency in CDS to over-complicate matters and create additional unnecessary work for our volunteers.

I'm proposing an experiment where the purchase price of land bought from the CDS is brought down to, effectively, zero. Apparently we can only set it for sale to 'anyone' if it's at least L$1. Then, someone buying the parcel will just be paying tier for one, two or three months as they choose.

I don't think we should insist on paying two or three months upfront. It's a pain to manually reprogramme each Hippo box to enable this and... it can't be enforced; we allow people to abandon their parcel and reclaim the tier they had left on the box. I also think it's counterproductive and unnecessarily complex. We want to encourage new people to join us and become part of the community. We do that by lowering barriers to entry (including the high upfront cost of purchase) and by having a community people want to stay part of.

As for having more EMs able to assist with land transactions and Hippo monitoring - I'm all for it. Lilith is already showing other members of the Executive Team how to deal with land reclaiming and setting it for sale again. If others are interested, they would be welcome to learn the ropes. There is a need though to ensure consistency of approach. It would be unfair if different EMs were given delegated powers to do this and then implemented CDS law in slightly different ways. It is fairly easy to imagine the drama that would ensue. That's why I retain the decision to reclaim land (or not). I think you could argue that this has to be the Chancellor's decision according to the CDS law and Constitution. The EMs I have worked with on this have wanted this to be my decision so that it is clear they are operating under my instruction and not on their own initiative.
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Re: Changing the Price of CDS Land

Post by Patroklus Murakami »

I've been trying to assess the impact of this policy. It has been tricky!

I've looked at the number of 'Government Land Sales' on the Land Scanner here. By that, I mean land sales recorded as "From Rudeen Edo" and "To Avatar" where the av is buying land for themselves and not in order to reset it for sale (like when my name or Lilith's or Rosie's usually appears on the scanner). I wanted to see if there was a significant increase in these kind of land sales in March and April compared with January and February. Here are the results:

Jan-Feb 2015
16 + 6 = 22 land sales

Mar-Apr 2015
10 + 17 = 27 land sales

So, in my view, the policy has increased land sales but only by a marginal amount. It has helped somewhat but has not been a 'magic bullet'. I propose that we make this permanent though and will present a bill to the RA to that effect; every little bit helps after all! I expect this will be taken forward in this or amended form by the new Chancellor and RA though.

I did wonder if comparing to 2014 would help so ran the numbers there too. Jan-Feb 2104 saw 11 'Government Land Sales' and Mar-Apr also saw 11. This was because there was much less land available for sale then. Cleo, Ceasar and Bromo (and a few others who were opposed to the Cleo clique) all held the maximum eight parcels each and used control of land sales to control access to votes.

If anyone wants to check my working out, the spreadsheet is here.
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Re: Changing the Price of CDS Land

Post by Sudane Erato »

I'm not thrilled by this new policy. We've had a number of new residents buy the L$1 parcels and overlook the need to pay the Hippo box. Then they subsequently left... in my view because they realized that owning land here is not quite as cheap as it first seemed. But I am entirely in favor of the concept... that acquiring the land should be free, and that the only revenue exchange be the monthly tier.

Perhaps a stronger and more prominent notice that the Hippo box MUST be paid immediately would prevent these mistaken actions.


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Re: Changing the Price of CDS Land

Post by Rosie Gray »

If we can get the remaining 3 sim-specific covenants done and approved, then all of the covenants can be updated on the about land. It is far clearer as to what you need to do to own land, and what is allowed.
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