Land Ownership

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Land ownership is the fact of legal possession and control over property consisting of real estate, which may consist of physical land or buildings. Real estate may be gained, transferred or won in a bet, received as a gift or inherited. Importantly, land can also be found and homesteaded.

In a 17th century game world, during the process of homesteading land, said land is NOT owned. Ownership doesn't occur until it's acknowledged by authorities.

Unowned Land

In those map hexes that possess no coin symbols, the residents of the land are considered in the process of homesteading, effectively squatting on the land. Officially, these squatters don't "own" the land; but they are also outside the attention of authorities, who have minimal capacity to manage their own lands, due to a lack of resources or concern for "backcountry" parts of the realm. That said, homesteaders are subject to fees imposed by tax farmers.

Thus homesteaders are tolerated, until such a time as the development of these lands promotes a sufficient degree of economic interest. The tipping point comes when the hamlet in a type-5 hex reaches a level of development that it becomes a "village," at which point the locale advances in its accumulation of facilities and gains a coin through financial interest.

At this point, the local authorities become interested, acting to assess the land occupied by homesteaders, imposing a fee to certify ownership for the occupier, and then imposing taxes. Thereafter, the squatters become legal owners (unless disallowed for social or legal reasons), and therefore registered freeholders.

Anyone can homestead at any time, by simply finding empty land in any hex lacking a coin, building a house and proceeding to farm.

Land Value

Under certain circumstances, land can be put up as a security for debts, and therefore held as collateral for a mortgage. This worked differently in the medieval-Renaissance time period than it does today. At that time, the borrower gave the lender the right to take possession of the property if the borrower failed to repay the debt within a specified time. In essence, the mortgage was a conditional conveyance of the property that would be void if the borrower repaid the debt on time. Standardised contracts, interest rates and extensive legal frameworks did not exist at that time.

The value of land varies. Land was often valued based on its agricultural potential. The fertility of the soil, access to water sources, and the land's ability to support crops or livestock are significant factors. Proximity to trade routes, towns, or resources also influence land value. Land closer to markets or with easy access to transportation is generally more valuable. Valuation methods are less standardized, and assessments more subjective, relying heavily on local knowledge, customs, and the expertise of individuals within communities, such as land surveyors or local authorities.

Rural Property

A piece of agricultural property can be priced according to it's net yield in a local common crop per annum. For example, if wheat were commonly grown in the area, and the net amount of wheat grown (minus the seed for next year) come the last harvest of the year was 600 lbs. per acre, at 4½ copper pieces per lb., then the base price per acre would be 2,700 c.p. per acre, or slightly more than 14 g.p.

Town Property

The value of town property is far more subjective than rural property, as comparison with similar properties, size, quality of construction, the number of rooms and any other unique considerations all have an effect on the price. Too, the distance to amenities, proximity to important buildings, markets and desirability of the neighbourhood are all factors. In effect, a price for a piece of town property is more or less gainsaid by the local dealer — that being represented by the dungeon master.

For game purposes, a choice piece of property, located near the market square or docks, constructed of sturdy materials, with easy access to clean water and basic amenities, and primarily used by merchants for storage, might go for 80 c.p. per square foot. Residential property of the same kind would sell for three times that amount, remembering that multi-floor dwellings are priced according to their total square footage for all floors combined. Progressively cheaper property can therefore be priced all the way down to 1 c.p. per square foot, the bottom price reserved for burned out or dilapidated property that must be cleared before it can be made useful. Empty property without a building (say, 5 c.p. per square foot) is more valuable than a collapsed house that would need a great deal more work to prepare the site for construction.

See also,
Property Tax