Listing pictures are often the first thing a potential buyer will see online and can make the difference between a listing being viewed or ignored. Knowing this, it’s no wonder that when drone technology became popular around 2014, agents jumped on it as a way to set their listings apart from everyone else. Drones in real estate have gone through some changes since then and may now be a better option for real estate professionals than ever before.
How Drones Can Be Used in Real Estate
Most of us are familiar with the use of drones in the military but the technology’s purpose has expanded in the past few years. From photography to package delivery from Amazon, drones have gone mainstream. In real estate there’s a clear purpose in marketing a listing with the help of a drone.
- Aerial shots of a large property
- Aerial images of a large tract of land to provide scope
- Photography of local amenities and the landscape – especially useful for areas known for their local beauty and/or tourism spots
MLS photos have become more and more important over the years. Drone technology allows for images that add scope and perspective to a property that your smartphone won’t always do. Right now, aerial photography is most popular with luxury real estate but agents in all niches are beginning to see advantages to using drones to help market some of their listings.
DIY or Hire a Professional?
Drone photography sounds like something that needs a professional’s touch, and if you’re not going to offer it for all of your listings, it certainly makes financial sense. According to one drone photography company, costs can begin at $200 for a photoshoot and increase into the $1000s, depending on the property and the images you want.
If you’d rather do it yourself, there are things to keep in mind. Of course the cost of a drone with a camera is a consideration but it’s less important than making sure you follow the legal requirements. In 2014, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) targeted Realtors for their use of drones causing the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) to step in and begin negotiations to ease restrictions and make drone technology available for agents while maintaining safety.
The result of this collaboration created new FAA regulations that went into effect in August 2016.
- Flight in airspace classified G will no longer require clearance from local air traffic control.
- Drone pilots must be 16 years or older and be licensed.
- The Section 333 waiver to fly a drone weighing less than 55 pounds is no longer required.
Not all drones are created equal and NAR focused primarily on the small drones weighing less than four pounds. The requirements change depending on the drone you’re using. Other regulations to keep in mind if you DIY your drone photography:
- You must have a spotter to help while navigating the drone.
- Drones cannot exceed 100 miles per hour.
- Certain drones cannot be flown more than 400 feet above ground level.
- If you’re above 400 feet, your drone must be within 400 feet of the structure you’re photographing.
From a legal standpoint as well the quality of the photographs taken, it may be easier to hire a company that understands FAA regulations and can operate within them so you have one less thing to worry about. However, if you plan to make drone photography a key part of your real estate marketing for most of your listings, it may make financial sense to get your license and do it yourself. Either way, drones are here for real estate marketing and will likely only become more popular over time.