Buying Property that Comes with a Cell Site Lease

Property (e.g. land, buildings or structures) that comes with a cellular lease can be valuable, there is no doubt about it. However, ascertaining its true market value is something that only an industry expert can do. Steel in the Air is the foremost expert in the wireless industry in valuing cell tower and rooftop cell site leases. We have assisted thousands of clients with valuations including those who are in the process of buying or divesting property with a cell site lease. If you are contemplating buying property that comes with a cellular lease or leases, before doing anything else you should determine whether or not the seller has already sold, or otherwise conveyed, the lease.

What to do if the lease will not be transferred to you.

Steel in the Air has been contacted by buyers, like you, who want to know how to transfer the rental payments, believing that the rent is owed to them, only to discover that the cellular lease has already been sold to a third party buyout company (or, in some cases, the seller of the property will decide to hold onto the lease). If this is the case, then you won’t be receiving any rent, but we advise you to be assertive about getting the information anyway. You should know who owns the rights to any leases on your property – because there is a chance, due to future carrier collocation, that you might be involved with lease expansions or additional ground space leases (in the case where you own land) down the road. In other words, it is your business to know this information, whether or not you will be receiving rental payments.

What to do if the lease will be transferred to you.

If the seller confirms that the lease will be transferred to you (along with the rental payments), then you should have the following questions:

  • Is it likely that the t lease will continue for a long time or is it possible that the lease will be terminated?
  • After I buy the property, can I sell the lease to a third party?
  • Is the lease valued appropriately or is there an opportunity to negotiate better terms going forward?
  • Is there a chance that additional tenants will want to rent space on my property?

It’s also important to understand that you are likely paying more for the property because of the rental income. If you need assistance with determining the fair market value of the lease(s) or would like assistance selling the lease(s) after your purchase is finalized, please contact us. We can review the terms of the lease and the cell site that it is bound to to appropriately determine its true value. We will also advise you on its expected longevity.