It’s California and Florida law and many states in between. If a company in the telecommunications industry hires an individual to handle site acquisition and that employee negotiates the purchase, sale, lease or rent of an antenna site on behalf of that company, then that individual would require a real estate broker’s license.
When you compare the skill sets required by site acquisition professionals, it’s almost like legislating that before an eye surgeon can perform radial keratotomy he must obtain a knife sharpener’s license – or so it may seem to the many experienced site acquisition specialists who successfully rely upon their regulatory, environmental and engineering expertise as well.
Some people contend that you only need to be licensed if you are on commission and you’re exempt if you are salaried. A few of the major tower owners require their site acquisition contractors to be licensed to avoid any potential problems.
We recommend that you contact our listed site acquisition companies to obtain additional information about their services, capabilities and experience.
Site acquisition fees are based upon client and community requirements. Colocations can range from $2,000 to $3,000 per site. Ground builds are more expensive, totaling between $4,000 to $10,000 for securing three viable candidates, leasing the property, and going through a zoning process.
Due diligence and other external costs can reach $15,000 for processing and preparation, requiring a budget of up to $25,000. Included are services such as a phase one environmental ranging from $1,250 to $2,500 . Economies of scale are severely weighed and pricing is negotiated for all schedules.
Understanding the technical and engineering standards of the client is a prime requirement for the acquisition specialist to maintain a timely network deployment or facilitate single site revenues and service. They must also focus upon obtaining competitive lease agreements and understand jurisdictional zoning and permitting requirements.
The ability to understand legal descriptions almost as well as a surveyor is an asset for site acquisition professionals.
Upon receiving search ring data from a carrier’s radio frequency engineers, the specialists pour over maps and zoning ordinances for the targeted locations. Governed by height restrictions, tower separation distances, existing industrial sites and other requirements, they then pinpoint the areas best suited to the carrier’s needs that won’t require site variances, accelerating the proposal’s approval by municipal officials.
It is important for the site acquisition specialist to identify whether their client will take a firm stance regarding community opposition to the construction of towers or other antenna supporting structures. A comprehensive approach to identifying what immediate actions will be undertaken to protect the rights accorded tower developers is necessary to ensure that the acquisition firm is supported and compensated for their successful tenant/owner activities.
Many consultant-directed zoning ordinances are unscrupulous, according to the PCIA, and the association is spearheading an educational campaign to expose the unnecessary layers of regulation to the siting process. Consultant-directed zoning ordinances may include hidden fees, restrictions or may result in the mandatory removal of existing structures. Presenting positive alternative zoning ordinances to communities can assist in preventing these abuses, according to PCIA.
Carriers and tower owners are presently contracting with site acquisition firms to negotiate the many thousands of expiring leases that were signed during their first wave of buildouts.
Emphasizing the need to create a stronger relationship with planning departments and the community at large, one leading tower owner has retooled “Site Acquisition Specialists” to “Acquisition Surveyors”. We’re hoping California will not view it as an opportunity to require an additional license fee to offset their multi-billion dollar deficit.
On occasion, the tower owner will benefit when their tenant is a state agency that is building a statewide radio system that will allow for co-locations. In one instance, legislation was passed that required the state to notify the local community that a tower was being proposed at a specific location. If that site was opposed, then the community had to propose an equal alternate location within 30 days that had clear title, no wetlands and a completed Phase 1 environmental study.
Real property title issues (Curing Defects)
Below are some title-related items that are the responsibility of the site acquisition specialist:
Legal Description, Conveyance
The property owner and the specialist should be responsible for determining the proper legal description of the sites, as well as conveying legal title for all sites.
Most tower owners require a title insurance policy be issued for parcels which comprise their structure and compound area. The title insurance policy provides some assurance that there are no adverse title problems that will render the site unusable in the future.
Many tower owners are concerned with the subsurface mineral rights of their properties; others don't. However, the most important concern when locating tower sites is that the tower owner has control of the surface of the property together with the right to lay any necessary utility lines.
In many cases, the owner of a parcel of property does not own minerals, gas, or oil that may be located beneath the parcel. In these cases, the mineral rights have been severed from the real estate and a third party has the right to the minerals. Though the tower owner does not need to acquire the right to the minerals, it is imperative that a surface release be obtained from the owner of the mineral rights so they will not ask to come onto the property to mine the minerals or interfere with the use of the property.
Oil and gas surface releases are easier to obtain because the gas and oil can be reached using directional, or "slant", drilling from another location.