Drones for Real Estate: A Guide for Beginners
Drones for real estate are quickly becoming the next evolution in the market. Now is a great time to consider drones for real estate advertising. Sellers want to be represented by agents who showcase properties in interesting ways. There is no better, more cost-effective way to capture the unique settings and features of a building than through the aerial photography that a drone can produce. Buyers want to see more of the homes they are interested and now can thanks to aerial photography.
Are Drones for Real Estate Right for You?
Creating added value for customers is essential to standing out in very competitive real estate markets, and realtors are quickly coming around to using drones to highlight their properties.
Uses for Drones for Real Estate
- Create more interesting virtual tours
- Show local improvement and historic district issues
- Present the neighborhood and surrounding areas
- Conduct aerial inspections of the entire property
- Highlight scenic views, landscaping and curb appeal
Sellers and buyers often have a difficult time differentiating one real estate agent from another. Adding drone photography to your marketing efforts allows potential investors to see every inch of the property, including pitfalls and problems, at the initial phase of the deal. The National Association of Realtors conducted a survey in 2016 which found that almost 20 percent of agents who are not using drones for real estate listings plan to do so in the near future. The survey also shows 12 percent of realtors know someone in their office who uses drones, and 11 percent say they would consider hiring a professional drone pilot.
If you are thinking about using drones for real estate photography, you need to resolve your possible legal liability and be licensed by the Federal Administration Agency. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” is not a smart policy when flying drones for real estate. Drones can hurt people and damage property if pilots are not careful. Whether you fly drones yourself or hire a company, the pilot must be insured, properly trained, and have a drone license from the FAA.
Know Your Market, Show Your Market
Well-designed camera drone footage not only looks incredibly professional, it can generate a sense of awe that you simply cannot get from old-school, ground-based photography. Posting drone footage online means buyers from all over can get a very clear idea about your properties 24/7, making the lead to acquisition process significantly faster for you.
If you outsource to a professional drone photographer, expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $2,000 per flight depending on the experience level of the pilot. The agent or broker typically covers the cost, not the seller, so every flight lowers your profits. Piloting a drone yourself will save you money and downtime while you are waiting for videos and stills from a vendor.
The practicality of using drones for real estate advertising is especially germane when you consider cost and return on investment. In very competitive markets and luxury neighborhoods, real estate agents have generally used airplanes and helicopters to film the property. But that can cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars per flight and limit the number of properties you can afford to shoot. In contrast, you can buy a professional camera drone for just over $1000 and film all your listings on your time.
Generate New Business
Buyers often shop online first, with many using their mobile devices, so they expect detailed photographs and videos or they may search for another realtor.
Consider drone footage a key to your website’s digital strategy. You can leverage it on Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Pinterest, Instagram and every other online medium. Using drones for real estate advertising will create organic social engagements, attract attention to your personal profiles, and highlight the very best aspects of your listings.
For residential properties, aerial images and videos are often the only way to showcase the entire context of a property – its surroundings, proximity to neighbors, etc. Drone photography for commercial properties should at least show the building’s condition, proximity to stores and restaurants, and parking.
Also, you can edit and share the drone footage however you want. Without extensive experience or expertise, you still can really get creative. Imagine your property showcased by a drone video that begins a view from 400 feet above, then proceeds quickly up the driveway, continues towards the front door, and circles the interior – in the same shot. (The possibilities of drones are truly endless.)
Drones for Real Estate: Pick a Model and Get Trained
If you want a drone for real estate, consider the two most popular models among realtors: DJI’s Phantom and Inspire.
The Inspire and Phantom are packed with features to help pilots fly without repeated crashes. Features also include: automatic return, GPS, first-person view, and headless mode. They also offer HD video (typically 1080p or better) and high-resolution pictures to capture every detail of the building. When using a drone for real estate advertising, it is critically important to choose one with a great camera. No one wants to squint at blurry, pixelated images online.
So which should you choose? That depends on your needs and staffing. A real estate agency will do fine with the Phantom 3 or Phantom 4 ($500 – $1500, respectably). A larger agency might want to consider the Inspire 1.
Luckily, you do not need a pilot’s license to fly a drone. But you still need to pass the FAA Airman Knowledge Exam under Part 107. If you do not know what you are doing, you can get into a lot of trouble! The FAA has fined pilots for illegally using drones for commercial use. Avoid taking unnecessary risks when pursuing drones for real estate applications. Make sure you are aware of:
- What you need to know when flying close to private property
- How to fly your drone safely near people and structures
- The ins/outs of your drone’s features and how to best use drones for real estate
- FAA, local and state rules governing flight
- Insurance concerns and regulations for real estate drones
Once you’re ready to implement drones into your real estate operation, you’ll give buyers new, fantastic views of the properties you’re selling.
AJ Cote writes for DARTdrones’ blog. Cote wrote this blog post about drones for real estate.