hippoRENT - Top Tips for Landlords
The rental business in Second Life is a great way to make money; it’s also a fun way to meet new people and help to shape the broad, diverse range of communities that make up Second Life. But like any new venture, getting started can be a bit daunting. Here are just a few tips to help you get going.
- When buying residential land, think location, location, location. Potential tenants will choose carefully before parting with their hard earned Linden dollars, so buy land with care. Quiet, residential sims; waterside plots; forests; carefully planned town sims etc. --- these are all good bets. Ask yourself "would I rent this"? before buying land to rent.
- Work out your cost price for land before setting the rental price. Sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many landlords pluck figures out of thin air. You can work out the monthly cost of a plot easily using the Profitability Wizard built into the rental server.
- Set up a group for your tenants and explain how people can join it in the information notecard that goes in your rental box. You can then easily send group messages, keep track of tenants and make use of other functions, see below.
- Deed your land to your group and turn auto-return on ... that way only tenants, with their group tag activiated, can build.
- Using the new group role tools provided in Second Life, allow group members to adjust the audio and video streaming settings on their land. This is one of the most popularly requested services tenants will ask for and you can save lots of time by letting them do it themselves.
- To attract new tenants, advertise in as many places, as widely and diversely as you can. The rental vendors can help immensely here. Make sure your plots of land, or your mall/market, is listed in the Search->Places tool provided by Second Life. To do this, choose World from the Second Life menu, then About Land then under the Options tab ensure that "Show in Find Places" is checked. Make sure your land parcel description is helpful and to the point and that the snapshot is nice and attractive.
- Consider offering tenants the ability to rent extra prims. This will require you to have at least one spare plot of land in each sim you rent so you can draw upon that (if all your plots are deeded group land). If you don’t do this, you run the risk of tenants "outgrowing" their rental and moving on.
- Remember that a good tenant is worth their weight in gold. Consider rewarding loyal tenants in some way, perhaps the occasional free week, or long term discounts. After all, if they leave, you’ll have a property standing empty and not earning you anything.
- Track down where the good prefab home stores are in Second Life and be willing and prepared to advise tenants on what they can buy that will fit a given plot. Not everybody wants the same prefab, so it’s usually better to allow tenants to erect their own homes than force everybody to live in the same little type of box.
- Obvious as it sounds, answer IMs from tenants quickly and be ready and willing to help. Good customer service builds good will, word of mouth advertising (worth its weight in gold) and tenants who will stay for longer and provide a steady stream of income.
- If you’re renting stalls or shops in a market or mall, remember that it is your responsibility to promote it so that customers find their way to the stalls and shops your tenants are renting from you. Don’t be just another lazy land baron, content to take their money and do nothing for your tenants. Good promotion will drive traffic to your mall, your tenants will be happy, they’ll stay for longer ... and, if the traffic rises, you can charge more for your stalls and shops.
- If you’re a residential landlord, with several properties, consider providing some communal green space that your tenants can use for events and gatherings. This will increase the “social capital” of your sim or part thereof and, again, result in happy tenants who recommend the area to others.
- Whilst your rental boxes can keep track of the prims a tenant is using, they can’t delete or return prims. Thus keep one eye on your tenant’s prim counts (the server allows you to do this from one location). If a tenant has overshot their limit, be nice; consider offering to let them keep the extra for additional rent.
- If you have properties in a range of sims, or several malls, or a mall over several levels, remember the filter commands available in the server will help you manage your business much more easily. Want to see all your tenants in the Ambleside sim? That’s easy: click the Hippo Technologies logo on the front of the server and type: boxes list [ambleside] (or if you’re using the web-based management, sort your rental boxes by location) .
- If you're renting several identical or, at least, highly similar properties, set up the first rental box's "Configuration Notecard" the way you want. Then take a copy of the rental box to your inventory and simply rez that on each additional property. This can save lots of work. (Or if using web-enabled boxes, configure your first box, open the configuration for the second box and use the copy tool at the bottom of the configuration page to copy its configuration from the first box). You can also tell your rental boxes to load their configuration cards from your server, allowing you to use one card to control multiple boxes.