Using land for cell tower rental

Hello all
On the topic of how to get passive income from vacant land.
I am interested in acquiring vacant parcels with cell/other communication technology tower’s rentals in mind.

Are there any “done that” on the forum who has either mastered or know who has mastered the steps with setting up a cell tower? To add a twist - is it doable if zoning allows on residential lots? Is the business profitable with the tower’s cost ~75-100k to set up… I wonder…

I would love to hear “start here” or aspects to consider for due diligence as well as partners you need on the process.

Thank you in advance.

@nataliac I was looking into this a bit earlier this year. To my knowledge, the zoning always has to be commercial and it’s usually a great thing if you can get this kind of thing in place. It’s similar to a billboard lease but brings in a lot more revenue.

I heard one person say that that the days of big cell phone towers are “going away”. I’m not sure how serious of a claim that is… but it seemed to have some merit, because with 5G coming around, apparently the 5G equipment can fit on any power pole, light post, or building, and does not need dedicated towers.

But, you could start by calling around some of the big wireless carriers until you can find the person who handles the regional leasing arrangements.

I know of one person who has a 50-year lease that brings in $21K per year. She does literally nothing to maintain the equipment. She just allows them to access a section of her property whenever they need do, which sounds like pretty easy money to me.

@retipsterseth Appreciate it.
Indeed, with 5G, the equipment is smaller but so is the range that they transmit, so they need more of them. There seems to be an ecosystem around this market niche with consulting companies, towers/poles leases and manufacturers as well as end customer/cell providers.
I am always curious to connect with people who have dabbled in it to get the lay of the land. :slight_smile:

A number of years, and a few G’s ago, I helped a friend with a very well placed commercial property atop a hill in downtown Seattle. It had a mondo cell tower on it when he bought it that generated $400 a month from AT&T. It was in an unusable and barely accessible, but highpoint, in the back of the property.

The lease was maturing and ATT offered to extend at $1000 a month. I put him in touch with a SF Bay Area operator I knew for some inside guidance. They settled at $9400, a month! An extra $114G of rental income, gross and net (my kind of G as a real estate guy) added substantial value to the property when he eventually exchanged it into a larger building.

The cell phone company had paid all the cost of installation and they paid all maintenance costs. They sublet spots on the tower to local users - police, fire, paramedic, trucking and many others. All he had to do was give them a gate key and cash the check. Pretty low maintenance income.

Around the same time another friend had a tower on her B&B property in a rural area. Similar setup. Just move the decimal point a few spots to the left. Easy, low maintenance income, but substantially less. Location, location, location.

My only experience since then, paying Verizon every month.

1 Like