SL07:Land Basics

I have attended a session by Caledon’s Community Gateway–Oxbridge—which offers classes in Second Life basics every week. All classes are free and open to everyone. These classes are all taught at the Caledon Oxbridge Lecture Hall, between the “Cathedral” and the “Hall of Avatar Motion”.




Oxbridge Class: Land Basics
Instructor: Eleanor Anderton

Description: You many not have to have land to have fun in Second Life–but it sure helps! Introduction to Land will teach you the basics of how to find, buy, rend, and sell land in Second Life. We will also introduce land controls, and discuss the risks and rewards of land on Private Estates versus the Linden Lab-owned Mainland.

Warning: Long and tedious reading 🙂

Eleanor Anderton (SL):

Welcome to Land Basics. This class will teach you the basics of how to find, buy, rend, and sell land in Second Life. We will also introduce land valuation and discuss some of the special features–and risks–involved with owning land on Private Estates. As you may have guessed, land in Second Life can be quite a complex subject. Like Real Life, land prices here are affected by a host of market forces.
However, unlike Real Life, there is one ultimate supplier of land–Linden Lab–and they are constantly making new land–whether by adding new Mainland or by selling new Estate land.  This creates an even more chaotic land market than in the real world.
Of course it is possible to make money in that market if you are lucky, smart, and work hard. …become a land baron yourself If any of you have read the press on SL, you’ve may have heard of some of SL’s largest land dealers (often called “Land Barons” here). SL’s biggest Land Baron, Anshe Chung, even made the cover of Business Week magazine.
But for 99.9% of SL residents Land is not a way of making money; it is a home, a place to build, a place to put a store, a park, a church, a gallery. And that is what this class is all about…Before we go farther, one important point about land ownership–you must be a premium member to own Mainland land in SL. If you are on a Basic (i.e., free membership), you can only rent–or buy land on a private island. I will go over the difference between Mainland and Private Estate land in just a moment. I’ve embedded a note card into the class notes that goes into a lot of detail on Land in SL. I recommend you read over it.

Another good source of information about Land is the SL Wiki at:

The most important distinction in the Second Life land market is between Mainland and Private Estates. Mainland is property on continents that are owned and managed by Linden Lab.
Private Estate land is property on islands–or groups of islands–that is owned and managed by another Second Life resident.
Mainland Ownership: You are required to have a Premium membership which costs $9.95US per month with additional discounts if you pay quarterly or annually.
Land choices include either a Linden Home in a themed neighborhood or upgrade to a mainland location and your tier waived on a 512m parcel. The Mainland parcel will give you building rights while the Linden Homes cannot be moved or essentially changed.

Linden Homes Covenant can be read at p://

Mainland parcels must still be purchased.  Premium membership gives you the tier for a 512 parcel as part of your membership.  You still have to purchase the parcel from Linden Labs. If you purchase more land beyond the 512m parcel, you will be pay more tier payments to Linden Lab based on the amount of land you “own”. A risk or downside to owning Mainland parcels is you really have no control over your neighbors and their personal tastes.

Private Estate Land. Caledon Oxbridge is part of the Caledon Private Estate, a group of 50 sims. In other words, you are on private estate land right now. Estate owners collect monthly tier fees from their residents, and pay Linden Labs out of what they earn. A Private Estate owner is responsible for paying LL a monthly tier of 295US$ or 195US$ for each sim/island that they own (the amount depends on the purchase date of the island.) One good thing about buying on a Private Estate is that you don’t have to have premium account to do so. That transaction is between you and the island owner. They could care less what kind of account you have. They just want your money and your monthly tier fees! Some Private Estate owners allow you to pay your monthly tier in L$.

The terms and conditions of your purchase (or lease) of any land on a Private Estate is defined in that land’s Covenant. The Covenant document for a parcel of land can be found on the Covenant tab of the “About Land” window.


Even sitting here, you may click on World at the top left of your viewer, then on About Land. Click on Covenant tab and you will see the Caledon Covenant. Think of a land Covenant as a binding contract between you and the Estate Owner. A typical land Covenant will cover the amount of tier due for a parcel of land, when and how often it is due, and what forms of payment the Estate owner will accept.
For example, the Tier payments for Caledon are towards the end of the Covenant

Covenants will also spell out penalties for late or non-payment. The Covenant may also cover how and to whom you can sell your land and whether the Estate owner will buy it back–and if so, for how much. Covenants also serve as zoning for the Private Estate. A typical Covenant will set out land use regulations for the area (commercial versus residential, whether sub-leasing is allowed, restrictions on the size and appearance of buildings, setback requirements, sim theme, etc.)

One warning–it is up to the Estate Owner to enforce any such zoning. If they choose not to, you have no real recourse. But by contrast, on the Mainland, there is no zoning at all (in nearly all sims). The biggest risk when buying land on Private Estates is that if the person who owns the estate/island you purchased land on goes under (or sells that island) then your land may disappear too.  It is rare, but it does happen. If so, you are almost certainly out of luck. You can complain to Linden Lab, but they very rarely get involved in any resident to resident business dealings, except in the case of blatant fraud–and sometimes not even then!

Since you must pay tier fees on any land you own in Second Life you can look at the difference between Mainland and Private Estate land as the difference between leasing land from Linden Lab directly versus sub-leasing from a fellow resident who has leased land from Linden Lab. Ultimately Linden Lab is the overriding owner of all land in Second Life.

If you would look at the slide behind me (see Image above) and you also have this graphic in your class notes. It is a good visual explanation of land in second life. First comes Regions or also called sims. Regions can be Mainland as owned by Linden labs or they can be Private Regions or Sims which anyone can purchase. To purchase a private sim, you have to be a Premium member of Second Life

Just an fyi, I’m still a Basic member and my Land parcels are both on Private Estates. Caledon is an example of a Private Estate. There are also educational regions such as American Library Association or the ALA have their regions

Searching for Land
Land–there’s a lot of it. An amazing amount–with new sims coming on several times a day. Each little square dot on the map is a sim–either part of one of the Mainland continents–or a Private Estate.  SL is just plain big–around 25,000 sims, for over 1200 square kilometers of land. (A sim is a region of land in SL–a square 256m x 256m generated by one server. A sim contains 65,536 square meters of land, and can support up to 15,000 prims.) So how do you find land to buy? And how do your buyers find your land?  You have two tools in SL to do this. The Map and the Search/Land Sales window.

First, it is important to see the Property Lines.  At the top left of your viewer, click on View – Property Lines.  Now when you walk around you can see colored lines where the property lines are outlined. If you click this on now, you can see the colored lines outside on the grounds. This chart behind me explains the various features of the Search/Land Sales window. To get to that window, click the blue “Search” button on the bottom of your screen. Then select the “Land Sales” tab.

This chart behind me explains the various features of the Search/Land Sales window. To get to that window, click the blue “Search” button on the bottom of your screen. Then select the “Land Sales” tab.

Find the Search button on the viewer. As you can see–there are a number of options that you can use to filter the search results.


As you can see at the Image above–there are a number of options that you can use to filter the search results. Just hitting the Search button with no filters active, shows you ALL land for sale (100 listings at a time). There may be some lag as we all hit the button 🙂 But–you can filter and sort your results. The first pull down menu (next to the Search button) will let you choose, All, Auctions, Mainland, or Private Estate. The column of check boxes on the right of the Search/Land window (PG Content, Mature Content, Adult Content), allow you to select the maturity rating of the land you are looking for. All of these are at top of the Land Sales Search window btw

The “Price <=L$” check box and field will let your set a maximum price for land that you want to see unless price is not object for you. The “Area >= m2” box will let you set a minimum area you want to look at. 512 is considered the smallest parcel area. You can sort your results by “Name” (land description), “L$ Price”, “Area”, “Type”, or “L$/m2”

You can click on the column headings just like on a speadsheet and sort them out. Just click on the gray column heading at the top of the column you want to sort by. Finally–the Search/Land Sales window will let you also see a description, location, traffic, price and area of your land underneath the picture at the right of the window.

If you want a closer look at the land you are interested in, you can hit the “Teleport” button to go their directly, or see it on the map, by hitting the “Show on Map” button.


Which nicely brings us to the “Using the “Map” Window” section (See Image above)

I consider the fun way to look for parcels like detectives. If you look at land in the “Map” window, with “Land for Sale” checked, land that is colored yellow is for sale; land that is colored purple is being (or going to be) auctioned by the Lindens. Click on the Map tab at bottom of the viewer please. Land without a color overlay is not for sale. Open the map window now by clicking on the Map (not Mini-Map) button at the bottom of your screen. Note that to see these Land Sales overlays, you must have the “Land for Sale” box checked.

The Map window is a great way to get an idea of what other land is for sale near the land you are buying–or land you already own. It will also give you an idea of how tight the land market is in a particular sim.

Practice Example: Open Map. Click for the check by Land for Sale.  In the Search box, key in the sim “Zeppelinheim”. (laughs) ignore the Zeppelinheim example as the land there has already sold

There is one….scroll north to Winterfell Laudanum or type in Winterfell Laudanum into the Search on the Map. You will see a bright yellow square. See Image below:-

Land for Sale :). There should be a yellow rectangle marking a parcel for sale…unless it has been sold earlier today! On the World Map, land for sale also is marked with a yellow price tag/dollar sign icon. If you click directly on that icon, you will get the cost, size, and seller’s description of the land. (Please be warned this does not always work–blame the asset server; it’s what we all do). Remember, some large Private Estates are now nearly as large as Mainland continents. Caledon for example has 50 sims.
It may not always be possible to tell if a parcel of land is Mainland or part of a Private Estate from the World Map. To be sure, teleport to the parcel you are interested in. Then do an “About Land” (either from the World menu at the top of your screen, or by clicking on the ground and selecting About Land from the pie-shaped menu). From the About Land window, select the Covenant tab. If the land has a Covenant, it is part of a Private Estate; and is not Mainland. Other sources of information for Land Sales include the Xstreet market which is now owned by Linden Labs.

Question by Panthora Haiku: i have one about covenants. I own 3 adjoining parcels. If i rent one out do i put my own coventant on it
Eleanor Anderton: yes, on the same region or sim. Are your parcels on Mainland or Private ?
Panthora Haiku: mainland

Eleanor Anderton: Yes, if you plan on renting, you then become a Manager and to protect yourself, you will need a covenant

Now the having to pay for your fun 🙂
Tier is a term in SL for your land use fees. Whether Mainland or Private Estate, you can’t own land in SL without paying some sort of maintenance fee on it. Linden Lab charges you for Mainland land based on how much you have. This charge is known as “Tier.” You pay LL a monthly fee based on how much land on the Mainland you hold. This fee is paid in US dollars; not Lindens. How much land you own determines how many prims you can set out. The chart behind me is from the wiki. You are allowed to use 117 prims for each 512 square meters of land you own. That can vary on private estates. Some offer “double prim” land, where they have let part of the estate be mostly empty, and allocated the prims to leased parcels. But no estate can go above the 15,000 prims per sim limit.

We all dream of owning our own 15,000 prims! Digressing for a moment on prims–a prim is a measurement of an object in the world (and in a roundabout way server resources used).  A prim (short for “primitive”) is a simple shape such as a cube or a sphere. Most objects consist of multiple prims. Except for your avatar, the ground itself, and (some) clothing, everything you see in Second Life is made of Prims. Houses, furniture, buildings, vehicles, etc. are made of prims. Sometimes only a few prims–sometimes a lot of them.

Because prim limits are directly linked to tier fees, prims are one of the fundamental economic units of Second Life (along with L$). In order to have a prim “rezzed” (exist) in the world, you have to have space for that prim. I started to rez a home this afternoon but it was over 2000 prims! No room !

Each parcel of land can only support a limited number of Prims. (Land-based prim allotments originated as a way for Linden Lab to ration server resources.) A premium (i.e., paid) account includes the ability to own 512 m2 of Mainland with no additional charge. You must pay Linden Labs Tier on land in excess of that first 512 m2.  The Tier payment system is set up so that the more land you own, the less tier per m2 you pay.

Notice how the Tier for Mainland doesn’t increase in proportion:
$5 for a 512 [19:43]  Eleanor Anderton: Then only $8 for the 1024 but you have to figure in your premium membership. Linden Labs calculates Tier based on the highest amount of land you own for the month. If you own 512 m2 for 29 days, and 1024 m2 for 1 day, you pay tier as if you had owned 1024 m2 that whole month. If you are going to increase the amount of land you can own (aka “tier up”), it is best to do it just after you have been charged for the last month’s tier fees. If you buy land on a Private Estate, you will be paying tier to the owner of that estate, and he or she will be paying Linden Lab.
Tier on private estates often varies from what is charged for Mainland lands, depending on the business model of the Estate developer. A few things to be aware of regarding tier and Private Estates:
1) Tier paid to Estate owners is separate from tier paid to Linden Lab. You can’t mix and match, should you own land on both an estate and the Mainland and many people own land on both

2) You do not need a premium account to buy land on a private estate.

3) The 512 free tier from a Premium account is only good on Linden Lab managed Mainland.

4) The details of Private Estate tier should be made clear in the Covenant for that land.

Tier can be expensive, but LL makes much of their money off of your tier payments–either directly on the mainland or indirectly on a Private Estate. Without tier, we wouldn’t have a SL to play in… So Tier is Good 🙂

Question from Adria Qualia: If you for example own 1024 m2 land on mainland….will you only pay as if it was 512 m2?  (because premium member bonus)

Eleanor Anderton: looking back at the chart. You pay tier on the highest amount of land you own but yes to your question. You would pay $5 for 1024 with 234 prims. Just as a rule of thumb,  you can figure 1,000 lindens equals approximately $4 about the cost of a latte grande

Adria Qualia: And if you buy 1023?
Eleanor Anderton: a 1023 would probably be counted as a 1024 and I would ask where that extra meter is

Aika Nirvana: if you rent from a private owner should you expect to pay about the same in tier?

Eleanor Anderton: It varies.

Buying land is really simple–all it takes is money 🙂   Sometimes quite a bit… And sometimes not so much at all…Now to buy. To buy a piece of land, just go to the plot of land you want to buy. Right click on the ground (it has to be the ground–not a building or a landscaping prim on the ground) to bring up a pie-shaped menu. If the land is for sale, you can select “Buy Land” from that menu–or go through the “About Land” window. Remember the yellow parcels on the Map? (If you are going to buy the land for a group, you will need to go through the “About Land” window.)

If you do that, you will get an “About Land” box. At the bottom of “About Land” box there is a “Buy Land” button. If the button is bright blue, that land’s for sale to you for the price listed by the “For Sale” field. “About Land” and “Buy Land” are also in the World menu. This can be handy for buying a plot where you can’t see the ground to click on (if the ground has been covered with prims, for example).  Covered in prims means “fake grass or rocks” usually. If you select “Buy Land”, you will get a window that tells you how the land you are about to purchase will impact to your account: if it will raise your tier level and how much it will cost to buy.

But–and I cannot stress this strongly enough–if you press “Purchase” SL will AUTOMATICALLY make those changes to your account, which will usually include charges to your credit card of US$. So look at the “Buy Land” window very carefully before you buy anything. Careful with the mouse clicks. You can also buy land for a group. To do that, click the “Buy for Group” button instead of the “Buy Land” button on the “About Land” window. You MUST have the group you are buying land for active to buy land for it. “Active” means that the group title is above your head. Be VERY careful here. You don’t want to accidentally buy the land for the wrong group! If you buy land for a group–then that group owns the land. Unless you control that group (are the Group Owner), you can’t get that land back unless the Group Owner allows it. As you can see, buying land for a group brings its own set of complications–which could be a class in and of itself. When buying land on Private Estates–watch out for misleading land reservation fees! (I consider this a deceptive trade practice.)

You may find land on island listed for a very low price–say 1L$ or 2L$ per square meter. Read those sale ads in the Search for Land Sales. some of those are worse than those telemarketing phone calls. But before you hit “buy” take a close look at the land’s Covenant. Some of these land holders have covenants that say things like “What you are buying is a one day hold on this land, after which you have to pay xxxxL$ payment to me.”

If you don’t pay them, they yank the land, and you have no recourse to Linden Labs. Most people selling land on private islands are honest–and will make covenants like this VERY CLEAR (often with a notice in the Search/Land Sales ad and/or a pop-up notecard when you enter the parcel) but you have to be careful. Some will just let the buyer beware…

Buying Land in SL: really means you are leasing the Land from Linden Labs for Mainland and for Private Regions such as Caledon. You are leasing the land from the Region owners who then pays tier to Linden labs. We are all so used to the real life real estate jargon that everyone uses BUY when they are really leasing the land. So understand that when your purchase a parcel on Private estates, you don’t really OWN the land and the same holds true for Mainland. Linden Labs own the business of Second Life and their servers which hold our pixels 🙂

Second Life has a very active rental market. As with any transaction, there are advantages and disadvantages to renting; carefully weigh these before deciding to rent.
Land is offered for rent on both the Mainland and on Private Estates. Land on Private Estates may even be sublet in some cases. (In Caledon, this requires permission from the Estate Owner)
One thing to keep in mind–because of Linden Labs tier (land use fee) system–essentially ALL land in Second Life is leased.
Whether you buy land from LL, buy it on a Private Estate, or rent it from a landlord, ultimately, you are paying a recurring fee for the rights to various levels of control over that land (i.e., allotment of LL server resources).
All “land” in Second Life is the property of Linden Labs, and can be revoked for a variety of reasons outlined in the Terms of Service contract you agreed to when you joined Second Life.
Let’s look at the negatives of renting first. They are:
1) no binding leases,
2) land use restrictions,
3) group requirements, and
4) limits to changing land settings.

This would mean if you “rent” a home from a parcel owner such as Panthora could set up her rental parcel with any requirments or limits you wanted

No Binding Lease–Your landlord (or someone he or she might sell the land to) can kick you off rented land for any reason–at any time. If they do, you have no recourse. Not that Panthora would do that 🙂

LL won’t get involved in resident-to-resident business dealings. A smart and/or ethical landlord won’t do that. Most landlords want to keep their tenants happy–and avoid generating negative word-of-mouth.  They don’t make money by running off the people who pay them. But it can and does happen.

Land Use Restrictions–Most rented land comes with some land use restrictions. At a bare minimum you will be limited in the number of prims that you can use. This is a reasonable and rational restriction. Your Landlord only can use a set number of prims (based on how much land they own in that sim). If you go over your prim limit, you are keeping your neighbors from being able to use their share or taking prims from common areas or landscaping. Many landlords will also have various aesthetic and/or zoning-type restrictions on their properties. For example, you may not be able to open a store in a residential development, or you may not be allowed to build out up to the property line. Most good landlords want to maximize the value of their property to their tenants. Just like Real Life. Also–if you rent in a sim, you must abide by it’s PG/Mature/Adult rating. Persistent griefing will get usually get you evicted. Examples include: attacking or insulting people, using push weapons, excessive shouting or playing of annoying sound clips, and overuse of lag-creating scripts and particles. If this happens to you–cheers to your landlord!  Try not to be such a jerk next time.

Group Requirements–To rent land, you normally must be a member of a land leasing group created by your landlord. Any objects you rez must be set to that group, or they will be auto-returned–including your house, shop, or furniture. Landlords require this so that they can remove prim litter–prims that people leave lying around–will be automatically returned to the person who left it there.


Abrupt ending cause the line lag @.@


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