Crown Castle Cell Tower Lease Buyouts

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Crown Castle regularly contacts landowners with cell site leases to make offers to purchase their lease agreements.  If you are a landowner with a Crown Castle tower on your property, chances are you have received many offers over time from Crown and possibly from other lease buyout companies.   You likely have noticed that over the last couple of years, the offers seem to keep climbing.

Why Does Crown Castle wish to Buy My Lease?

There are a couple of very good reasons that CCI wishes to purchase your lease. In order of importance to Crown:

  1. They don’t want someone else to buy the rights under their land lease. Crown would rather negotiate with an individual than with a company that owns the rights under 100s or 1000s of their leases.
  2. Most lease buyouts are for 50 years or longer. By buying the lease in advance of the lease expiration, they can avoid having the landowner negotiating better terms closer to the expiration.
  3. Crown Castle has capital that they can “invest” in the rights under their cell phone tower. Instead of the lease being an ongoing operational expenditure, they “capitalize” the lease up front and increase future profits on the tower.
  4. They can resolve any ambiguity in the lease agreement to their favor by adding language to the easement purchase agreement.

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    Do you currently have one or more cell towers or cell sites on your property?

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    Why Should Landowners Consider Selling Your Lease to Crown Castle?

    We have assisted 500+ landowners with Crown Castle lease buyouts over the years.  There are some reasons you might consider selling:

    1. If you intend to sell the underlying property, you will likely find that selling the lease will typically generate a higher combined valuation than selling the property inclusive of the lease. Why is this? Because the average person or company purchasing your property doesn’t see the same value for the cell tower lease as a company that aggregates or owns a bunch of leases or towers.
    2. You need cash but don’t want to let go of your property. Many banks won’t lend against cell tower lease income because of the termination rights in the lease. For companies like Crown Castle, they already know the wireless industry and have more robust expectations for the longevity of the lease. Some of our clients have used the proceeds from the sale of a Crown Castle lease to acquire other property under a 1031 like-kind exchange.
    3. You are liquidating your assets. Several clients of ours who have decided to sell their leases are trying to clean up their estates before they pass their assets to their heirs. Or the estate itself is seeking to sell off assets to distribute the funds to the heirs. In these circumstances, we can help advise on the sale or broker the leases on your behalf. We can also provide letters of valuation for the value of the lease at the date of death.

    When Should Landowners Keep Their Crown Castle Lease?

    First and foremost, let’s dispel one common myth that Crown Castle representatives try to push to convince you to do a lease buyout. Crown Castle representatives like to suggest to landowners that the lease is at risk of termination if the landowner doesn’t sell it to Crown.  In 95% or more of leases we review, this is simply a lie. There is very little risk of termination on most Crown Castle cell sites. If there were, they wouldn’t be offering to buy the lease. So, if you feel you need to sell because you are worried about losing revenue, please don’t.  Just call one of our helpful staff members and we will gladly review your site and lease at no cost to you and let you know if there is any risk to be worried about.  In most cases, there isn’t, but in some cases, we may need to do further research.  These may include situations where the lease rate is substantially higher than normal or there are tenants on the tower that may terminate their subleases.  

    One situation where it makes sense to keep your lease is if the lease is below market value and expires within 15 years.  In these situations, the landowner can normally negotiate a better lease agreement with Crown Castle.  They can then sell the lease or keep it depending upon their own financial goals.  See our page on Crown Castle lease extensions for more details

    How Much will Crown Castle Pay to Buy My Cell Tower Lease?

    There are many factors that contribute to how much Crown Castle or other companies will pay to buy leases.  A general rule of thumb in 2023 is that they will pay 19 times the annual lease rate for a Crown Castle lease buyout.  But please be aware that offers can exceed 40 times the annual lease rate for unique leases.  

    How Can Steel in the Air help with a Crown Castle Cell Tower Lease Buyout?

    Over the last 20 years, we have helped more landowners than any other consultant (and probably more than many of them combined.)  We have advised 500+ landowners with Crown Castle cell phone tower leases on lease buyouts and many more on lease extensions.  We have brokered Crown Castle leases on behalf of our clients. Our goal is to help you make wise decisions related to your lease and a possible buyout.  That may mean recommending that you not sell the lease or that you wait to retain us until closer to the lease expiration. If may mean doing a formal assessment to help you and other decision makers determine the best course of action. Or if you already have a great offer, it might be just confirming that for you and not charging you.  

    No matter what your objective is, we will help you determine the best way to get there.  You will find us to be ethical and trustworthy.  We believe in data driven analysis influenced by decades of experience doing nothing other than helping landowners. We believe that there are no dumb questions and that landowners don’t need to be pushed towards any specific result including selling their lease through a lease buyout.  

    Call us and talk to us– ask us hard questions – don’t be afraid to ask for references from real people who have gone through what you have.  

    We welcome your call to discuss Crown Castle lease buyouts or any other cell tower lease related subject. 

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