Cell Tower Land Lease Rates | 5 Things To Know

By Nick G. Foster

June 25, 2014

(updated on February 18, 2020)

How Much Land Is Needed For A Cell Tower?

You have land and the cell phone carrier wants to lease it from you, but how much do they need? What are the appropriate cell tower land lease rates to apply to lease your land? These are common questions that we receive daily from property owners across the country.

It’s important to understand that every piece of land is unique. To help you get the answers you are looking for we want to share with you 5 Things You Should Know With Cell Tower Land Lease Rates.

1. Always Counter Their Initial Offer

The initial offer presented by a cell phone company can sometimes be 300%, or more, below market!

It is important to speak with a cell tower lease expert, such as Airwave Advisors, to secure a fair market deal with your cell tower lease. Remember that whatever cell tower lease rate you lock-in today, will be locked in for the next 20-to-30 years. Subject of course to whatever rent escalation you agree to in your cell tower lease agreement.

Giving up even $100.00 a month in rent can cost you over $50,000.00 over the life of the lease!

Don’t leave money on the table, or guess at what you should charge your cell tower lease tenant. Close the deal with confidence that you secured the most out of the opportunity.  

2. Carriers Always Ask For More Land Then They Need

Most representatives for new cell towers across the country are asking for a 100′ x 100′ lease area. That is 10,000 square feet, of your property, that the cell phone company will control for several decades!

Here is the secret cell tower companies don’t want you to know…

They really only need approximately 300 square feet. The usually only need a 10′ x 20′ area (200 square feet) to place their ground equipment, and a small footprint for the base of the cell tower. They don’t need thousands of square feet, and they certainly don’t need ten thousand square feet of land.

So Why Are They Are They Asking For So Much Land? 

They are trying to lease extra land from you now to sublease to other carriers in the future. By controlling 10,000 square feet of your land today, they will then receive 100% of any ground and tower revenue generated from any future subtenants. The future sub-tenant may be another wireless carrier or a small radio station. Either way they capture 100% of both the ground and the cell tower rent (if they lease extra space from you today).

This leads us to our next tip…

3. If They Want Extra Space, Secure Co-location Rent

If your cell tower tenant want’s to lease thousands of square feet from you, make sure you get a share of any future tenant’s rents. If another tenant want’s to co-locate onto the cell tower sitting on your land, you deserve a piece of the action. After all, it is your property that the cell phone company is now making money off of. If the cell tower company secures multiple tenants on the cell tower, they will be making money hand over fist.

Make sure that you have a cell tower lease expert, such as Airwave Advisors, in your corner to help you secure the best cell tower lease rates and revenue sharing arrangement.

4. Land Lease Rates Are Not Comparable To Your Neighbor

One of the most common mistakes that we see property owners make, is when they call other property owners who have cell tower leases to see what they are getting paid.

Our intuition tells us this is how we can sample the market and to compare our offer to landowners currently receiving cell tower rent. However, the fact is that most cell tower leases – including the one down the street with your neighbor – were poorly negotiated.

Too often property owners try to negotiate cell tower leases themselves. Mistakes are made and money is left on the table. This is all but guaranteed unless a property owner engages a subject matter expert to help them maximize their opportunity.

5. How Do I Maximize My Cell Tower Land Lease Rate?

The carrier’s have cell tower lease experts on their side who negotiate hundreds of deals per a year. Thousands of cell tower leases over the course of their career.

Unfortunately, when a property owner enters into discussions with cell tower lease professionals who do this for a living, they are outmatched from day one.  Even though a property owner may think they are getting a fair deal, they are often leaving money on the table.

You have to remember that the representative who has reached out to you is paid by the cell tower companies. Often they get a flat-fee for finalizing a deal and a bonus if they can convince the property owner to agree to below market terms. 


The Cell Tower Companies Have Experts On Their Side, Shouldn’t You?

Call Us Today

(888) 443-5101


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42 Comments

  1. Carla B. on October 11, 2019 at 3:27 pm

    Hi Nick –

    Thank you so much for taking some time to field a couple of questions regarding cell tower leasing. Your advice on getting out of the gate where lease negotiations is considered was gold. If we push forward I will definitely be in touch. Thank you!

    • Nick G. Foster on October 14, 2019 at 7:41 am

      Hi Carla,

      Thank you for the phone call and call back should you require further assistance!

      All the best,

      Nick G. Foster

  2. Cheryle Hughes on May 17, 2019 at 5:33 am

    will property taxes raise when renting to a tower company,

    • Nick Foster on May 17, 2019 at 7:58 am

      Hi Cheryle,

      The answer is it depends. Some county assessors will increase the property owners taxes, while other counties may not notice the tower. There should be a clause in your cell tower lease that should state that in the event property taxes do increase, that the cell tower company will pay the increase. If you are in negotiations with a new cell tower lease, make sure to give us a call so we can make sure this gets in the agreement.

      All the best,
      Nick G. Foster

  3. Sheila T. on October 23, 2018 at 1:18 pm

    A cellphone wants a new location to run their Fibre optic cables to have access from my property to the cell tower next door in a residential area. The compensation they want to give is. unlimited 20mgb for the Internet or cellphone 10mgb for local and sms and data.

    I need your advice…

    • Nick G. Foster on August 7, 2019 at 8:21 am

      Hi Sheila,

      I would never recommend accepting a service from a company in exchange for granting them rights to access or use your real estate. What if the service is bad? Instead, I always recommend property owners receive rent in exchange for granting any rights to any tenants for access and use of their property.

      All the best,

      Nick G. Foster

  4. Steve Horner on August 4, 2018 at 5:42 am

    Hello,
    Can a person during negotiations ask for some type of discount on their cell phone plans/ service. My father in-law has had a tower on is property for fifteen years and they are wanting to try and buy out the rest of his forty-five year lease. What are your fees to help with him in re-negotiation?

    • Nick Foster on August 7, 2018 at 9:31 am

      Hi Steve,

      Decades ago wireless carriers did entertain cell phones and service with lease negotiations. That time has since passed, and they no longer entertain those discussions.

      We are happy to assist your father-in-law in buyout discussions. Please feel free to give us a call at (888) 443-5101 to discuss further.

      All the best,

      Nick G. Foster

  5. Duncan Fiedler on January 26, 2018 at 9:38 am

    We live in Raywood Texas , Thomas wireless wants to lease a 50×50 thousand dollars to hold property til they build and 500.00 a month . My daughter is a lawyer but she said she don’t no nothing about towers , they keep calling and mailed us some paper work . Is that a good deal

    • Nick Foster on January 30, 2018 at 9:16 am

      Hi Duncan,

      $500.00 per month in rent is on the very low side for cell tower rental, however, it is important that you are aware of your surroundings. What I mean by that is what are property owners nearby willing to lease their land for? Would they laugh at the idea of leasing 2,500 SF for $500.00 per month, or would they jump on the idea? Feel free to give me a call if you would like to discuss further.

      All the best,

      Nick G. Foster

  6. Michelle on December 3, 2017 at 5:16 am

    I have been approached recently with a cell tower lease offer. I’m told there are 2 other locations they are looking at, as well. They have asked me to indicate on a form what my negotiation amount would be and they will meet up with me soon and collect my papers. We are very early in this offer and I’m reluctant to negotiate before getting more details from them. Is this a typical way for them to present offers?

    • Nick Foster on December 7, 2017 at 8:42 am

      Hi Michelle,

      Thank you for reaching out. Typically in new cell tower development they do evaluate a few options so they don’t put all their eggs in one basket. It was good speaking with you and sharing with you some tips on how to proceed from here. Please feel free to reach back out at (888) 443-5101 if we can be of further assistance to you.

      All the best,

      Nick G. Foster

      • Cheryl Kent on November 21, 2018 at 3:04 pm

        Is there a fee for this service???

        • Nick Foster on November 28, 2018 at 7:35 am

          Hi Cheryl,

          Yes, we are a for-profit business. Please give us a call at (888) 443-5101 if you would like to discuss our services with us.

          Best regards,

          Nick G. Foster

  7. Belinda Webb Yarosh on August 16, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    I have two acres out in NM side by side lots, purchased it as investment, suppose to be a subdivision, mix use, nothing has happen in 10 years, I would like to see if it would be usable as a lease for a Cell Tower just so I can get some ROI. I am to old to move there, and build anything. Near Moriorty, NM. How can I find out if it would be a location for a cell tower? I could use the lease to sock away for retirement

    • Nick Foster on August 16, 2017 at 2:19 pm

      Hi Belinda,

      Thank you for your comment. Please check out our article “Cell Tower Locations” to learn more on how to get a cell tower.

      All the best,

      Nick G. Foster

  8. Barbara Defender on May 29, 2017 at 10:11 am

    A cell tower wants 50×50 space to put a tower on my city lot.. what is the negotiatiing price on that????

  9. Leigh Paulsen on March 21, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    Wish I knew about this site 6 months ago. I signed a lease with a company who has sold their interest to another company – all legal and allowed within the lease however I think left lots of dough on the table not having you as advisors.

    • Nick Foster on March 21, 2017 at 5:10 pm

      Hi Leigh,

      I unfortunately hear this story more often than I should. If every property owner knew about our services the market would be significantly shifted in favor of the property owner. Who did you sign the lease to and who did they sell the lease to?

      Nick G. Foster

  10. Kitty on February 17, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    Cell tower call me to rent my land for 500$ 30×30 feet that they are asking. Is that a good deal???

    • Nick Foster on February 27, 2017 at 8:44 am

      Hi Kitty,

      Please give us a call at (888) 443-5101 to discuss.

      Nick G. Foster

  11. Mark Bias on February 12, 2017 at 9:02 am

    Hello, I have 2.33 Acres along I-81 in Tennessee and I am worried about the county refusing my attempts to put a cell tower up. Would I have to hire an attorney to fight ‘planning and zoning’ – or does the Telecommunications Act of 1996 give me the authority to put up a tower?

    • Nick Foster on February 15, 2017 at 3:54 pm

      Hi Mark,

      I believe your best bet would be to talk to county planning and zoning department. You may find that they are familiar with the cell tower development process and you will not require an attorney to assist you in your efforts.

      Good luck,

      Nick G. Foster

  12. Robbin Daniels on January 7, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    What if you own 1 acre but live there would you be able to lease any for cell towers

    • Nick Foster on January 9, 2018 at 10:28 am

      Hi Robbin,

      Depending on the zoning restrictions in your city and county, you may or may not be able to place a cell tower on land that your residence is located on. Please check with your local city and county planning department to obtain the correct answer.

      All the best,

      Nick G. Foster

  13. Tom Ritter on January 6, 2017 at 10:14 am

    I am helping a church, they have been contacted by a cell co. wanting to lease a site on the church property, the address is 3824 West Hwy 22, Corsicana, Texas. I were offered a very low amount, i know it is worth a great deal more, but not sure how much more. How can you help and what does that cost the church?

    • Nick Foster on January 9, 2018 at 10:11 am

      Hi Tom,

      It is not unusual for cell companies to offer religious institutions lower rent than say a commercial real estate landlord. If the church would like expert representation in their transaction, please give me a call at (858) 216-2649 and we can discuss further.

      All the best,

      Nick G. Foster

  14. Frank Richardson on January 5, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    Years ago, my uncle was approached by a carrier wanting to put a tower on his land, he refused, unaware he would be compensated, how do I regain interest of carriers, we owns land adjacent to the county 911 tower in wayne county, ms?

    • Nick Foster on January 9, 2018 at 10:30 am

      Hi Frank,

      It is tough when people pass on tower opportunities to regain interest. If your uncle passed, they likely built a cell tower down the road on another piece of property. If you would like to try and drum up their interest, contact the cellular companies directly.

      All the best,

      Nick G. Foster

  15. Bud Blackledge on January 3, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    I just recieved a letter in the mail from CMI Acquisttions who are representing Verizon Wireless to build a tower on my property. The letter states they will lease an area of 100 x 100. There lease is setup with a 5-year primary term and has four five renewal terms for a total of 25 years. They are offering to pay $400 per month/$4800 per year for this lease. What questions should I ask?

    • Nick Foster on January 9, 2018 at 10:18 am

      Hi Bud,

      I would start by asking why they only want to pay you $400.00 per month to lease 10,000 square feet of your land. That is a very low rental rate, even for most parts of rural America. If you would like to discuss further, please give us a call at (888) 443-5101.

      All the best,

      Nick G. Foster

  16. Angie Allen on August 15, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    Thank you so much Nick Foster for your professional help and great input! My cell tower in Garwood, Texas, with American Tower Corporation is up for renewal and appreciate your input!

    • Nick Foster on August 17, 2016 at 7:06 am

      Thank you for calling in Angie. We are happy to help!

      All the best,

      Nick G. Foster

  17. Anthony Scandariato on May 3, 2016 at 12:57 am

    I live in Liberty ny. The cell reception is really bad up here. I own 100 a.c. about 3 miles from town of liberty. I wanted to know how I can get these cell companies to put cell towers on my property? Please advise thanks

  18. Ken on February 25, 2016 at 7:13 am

    I heard that it takes only 5-7 years for a tower operator to recoup their investment from installing a cell tower on my farm property because of how they ‘write it down’ across their portfolio. Is this true, and if so, is there some reliable source for this fact?

    • Nick Foster on February 25, 2016 at 7:30 am

      Hi Ken,

      The answer is it depends. Some cell towers only cost approximately $100,000.00 to construct while other installations can cost over $250,000.00. The typical understanding in the industry is the tower operator will have recouped all their costs within ten (10) years of installation.

      Nick G. Foster

  19. HAVE LAND on December 5, 2015 at 2:32 am

    Have land interested in a tenant to lease cell tower water solar panels ect.

  20. Vaag oganyan on November 4, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    Hello we own 5 acres the in north dallas area and are considering approaching cell carriers if there is any interst in putting up a tower on our property.

  21. […] examples- to help you with the negotiations. An interesting important detail to remember is future co-location rents: if a tower can support more antennas than are initially installed, you could get an increase in […]

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Nick Foster Airwave Advisors

About Nick G. Foster

Since founding Airwave Advisors® in 2014, Mr. Foster has added value to over 400 clients ranging from the State of Nevada, City of Beverly Hills, to Habitat For Humanity. Mr. Foster focuses on cell tower lease renewals, buyouts, new lease negotiation, and cell site lease management. Prior to starting Airwave Advisors® Mr. Foster founded and led the Cell Site Services Group within nationwide commercial real estate services leader Cassidy Turley (now known as Cushman & Wakefield).