Are you currently negotiating cell tower lease rates with a wireless carrier? What are the average cell tower lease rates in your state? It’s such a broad question since there are hundreds of metropolitan areas across the United States and no two regions are alike and rental rates will vary from county to county and by wireless carrier. Rooftop antenna leases and ground leases for monopoles or towers are generally the same. However, where you may only be able to get a single rooftop carrier in many instances, on a cell tower you may get up to four co-locating mobile phone companies.
Cell tower lease rates are heavily influenced by supply and demand. Cellular carriers generally lose money on the more rural cell towers that don’t get a lot of traffic. Even their cell towers located in densely populated metropolitan areas lose money for the first several years in mot cases.
To illustrate how cell site lease rates can vary in the same metropolitan area, we will show a sampling of cell site lease rates by the same major wireless carrier on four separate cellular antenna sites leased in 2019:
$19,200 yearly / $1,600 monthly
$22,000 yearly / $1,833 monthly
$24,000 yearly / $2,000 monthly
$36,000 yearly / $3,000 monthly
Each of these four cell tower sites are located within a 45 minute drive of each other. The cellular tower lease rates can be attributed simply to supply and demand. The most expensive site is in the toughest location from a zoning perspective and the cell site where the rental price is the lowest is in a more rural setting on the outskirts of the metropolitan area.
What about cell tower land lease rates? What if you are receiving $1,200 per month including revenue share, from Crown Castle, SBA Towers or American Tower on a three carrier tower. Let's say your fenced in leased area or tower footprint size is 60' x 60'. They have a monopole, two pre-fabricated telecom shelters, a concrete slab with a raised equipment platform, ice bridge and a generator. The space is completely maxed out and they don't have additional ground space to add a 3rd 4th or 5th tenant. The tower management company can't expand the leased premises without your permission, so they come to you offering a square foot price based on some formula they have, in order to expand the size of their leased area so they can add more tenants. What is the cell tower land lease worth? Are land lease rates for cell towers based on a square foot price, or are they based on something completely different? The tower companies will tell you just anything as long as they keep the price as low as possible. they might even offer you a $10,000 one time payment with no rent increase, and sadly, many landlords actually agree to these kinds of offers.
Not much has changed in 2019. The carriers and tower companies still want to get as much as they can for as little as possible. Maybe it is high time to reach out to a Telecom Lease Genius who knows the market values all over the United States.
Example of Cell Tower Land Lease Rates
This is a cell tower lease rental rate list of "comps" map provided to one of our clients during an actual negotiation. The map is for illustration purposes only. However the certain wireless carrier was willing to pay the property owner $1,100 as monthly cell tower rent and justified their lease rate with actual "comps" of other cell tower ground lease rates in the state of South Carolina. And this seems almost reasonable. But there is a slight problem. The carrier's hard data did not compute since the property owner had hired Tower Genius LLC. Can you guess from the example above who our client was? We ended negotiating a 245% increase above what the carrier had been willing to pay the landlord, even though the supposed "range" was between $608/month and $925/month.
Does this mean all cell towers can be worth $2,700 monthly in South Carolina? Absolutely not. There were many determining factors that allowed us to be able to obtain that price for our client, namely zoning regulations, parcel size, elevation and availability of possible alternate locations. This was also a direct carrier deal and not a cell tower lease with a tower management company.
Some of our clueless competitors offering cell tower lease consulting services try to pull the wool over the eyes of property owners and want to show you "cell tower lease rates near you" or what others are receiving near you in cell tower rent. That is fake cell tower information and you should avoid anybody telling you there is a range for prices in your area. Every cell tower lease rate is determined on a site by site and individual basis.
Yearly Increases Matter When Determining Cell Tower Lease Rates
However, it is important to note that in each of these three real examples, we were able to negotiate 3% yearly increases for our clients and not 2% yearly increases or 15% every five years. The terms that you agree to are just as important as the rental rate you negotiate.
For example, let’s compare the difference in cell site lease rates and revenue of a carrier lease agreed to at a rate of $2,000 per month at 2% yearly increases vs. a rate of $2,000 at 3% yearly increases.
$2,000 per month with 2% yearly rental increases = $768,711 in antenna rental income at the end of the 25-year term.
$2,000/ year @ 3% yearly = $900,732 in rental income at end of the 25-year term, a difference of $132,021.
A wireless carrier will pay a real estate site acquisition consultant anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars extra in bonus money for getting a lease executed at 1% or 2% yearly increases and for a lower monthly rental amount. Some wireless carriers also hire lease re-negotiation contractors to attempt to re-engineer the terms of your lease a few years after you have a tower built on your property. Remember, the carriers pay out bonuses to the leasing companies for obtaining lower escalation percentages.
Even a small reduction in monthly rental or change in terms can add up significantly for the carriers and take a lot of money out of your pocket. We can help.