You may understand cell tower work, but what about site acquisition and cell tower leasing? I previously shared that I did a very short stint in site acquisition. It is a tough job, kudos to all the site acquisition people out there. So what about the leasing space and land for cell towers? Do you fully understand the leasing aspect? I was curious about cell tower leasing, because people have reached out to me in the past, asking me about leasing cell towers and leasing the ground beneath the tower. How does it all work? So who did I call?
I saw an interesting blog from Airwaves Advisors, http://www.airwaveadvisors.com/blog/ that talked about the leasing of cell towers. This prompted me to reach out to Nick Foster, the President and Founder of Airwaves Advisors, to ask him more about cell tower leasing. While I didn’t get him on the podcast, he was nice enough to let me interview him about this aspect of our industry.
First, it is important to understand that Nick does not represent the carriers, or the big tower companies. Nick works for the land owners. You know, the ones who know little about the tower industry, and think that if they get a few hundred dollars for a cell tower on their property, or on their roof, that they are getting a good deal. Well, let’s be fair here, Nick is an advocate for the landlord, the people who can benefit with a better understanding of the true value of a cell tower lease. These people are members of our community and deserve to get a fair-deal. It is their land, or building, and they have to deal with the tower on their property, the constant vendor access, and the workers showing up on their land for the construction.
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So what if a carrier, Crown Castle, or American Tower, wanted to build a cell tower on your property, or rooftop? Would you know how to structure the lease, or to make changes to the lease, based on the addition of a new carrier to the cell tower? Well, Nick can help you structure the lease up front, he is the one you need to call first. He has a page to tell you who he can help, http://www.airwaveadvisors.com/who-we-help/, that shows you he is in the corner of the little guy. He is the one who will stand up for you, the property owner. He has helped not only land owners, but commercial property owners, religious institutions, governments, and cell tower owners.
My conversation with Nick was interesting. He was working in the commercial real estate industry in Washington D.C. before moving to San Diego (one of the most beautiful cities in the world in my opinion). He did a stint in site acquisition and realized how often property owners had no representation, often leaving thousands of dollars on the table. This prompted him to think about what type of business to start. Then people were calling him asking for help. The next thing you know this guy is working the business and growing. He knows how to deal with the big boys, because if they are looking to go somewhere, it is usually for a good reason, they need to be there to fill dead spots.
Oh, and if you think he is dealing with the carriers direct, well guess again, it is usually a site acquisition or a law firm, not the carrier or tower company. The carriers and tower owners usually are ready to bring in the big guns immediately to ensure they secure a favorable deal. To balance the power, Nick is here to help out the property owner.
You probably think I have been talking about just the monthly income, right? Well, there is more than the rent and the recurring revenue. If the tower owner adds another carrier to the tower, the land owner should be able to get some more money for each carrier in a revenue sharing option.
What about the access road, who is going to maintain it? You or the tower owner? What about the landscaping, is there a governmental ordinance that the land owner is held to? Will the taxes change? What about the zoning, did you think about it?
My point here is that you have options and you should never go into the negotiations without being fully prepared, or represented. Remember that knowledge is power, and chances are you will need someone who is as knowledgeable as the side you are negotiating against.
This is only going to get more intense with the growth of small cells, and the smaller cell sites with LTE. I think the carriers will need to install more assets that will be closer to the people to help carry load and capacity needs. All the property owners out there will need help. They will be looking for someone to help them negotiate those leases up front, so that when the small cell expansion happens, they will be able to get a fair price without having any damage done to their property, and to maximize their value.
Remember that you need to make sure that you are fairly represented.
If you need help now, reach out to Nick at http://www.airwaveadvisors.com/, or call his office at (888) 443-5101. He didn’t pay me for any of this, he has a great service, he helps people, and he is a great guy! His video is below.
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What do you think about leasing land for a cell tower?
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