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How Drones are Crushing the Real Estate Industry

Before we identify how drones are being leveraged for real estate success, let’s first understand the current landscape for agents. Marketing and branding are crucial components of a successful real estate company. Most buyers rely on internet listings to research on their own before they even step foot outside of a listing. With this reliance on desktop and mobile technology, how agents advertise a property is the most important step to closing a sale.

Today’s real estate industry is flooded with agents. The housing market is making a strong comeback from the perils of 2008, and it’s relatively easy to earn a real estate license and start selling homes. With limited barriers of entry the number of new real estate agents is on the rise and competition for new business is fierce. Market conditions have created a very crowded industry.

So how do agents differentiate themselves from the pack? How are agents being heard through the noise? The answer – Drones.

Drones are the most important new technology to hit the real estate industry since the internet - for good reason. Drones can showcase a property from angles that people have never seen before. They capture dramatic and gorgeous images that can’t be replicated using traditional photographs taken from the ground. When stacked up against comparable listings, properties that advertise with drone images have more page views and clicks.

Drones Enhancing the Virtual Tour

Aside from capturing compelling images, drones take the virtual tour to a whole new level by creating a more immersive experience. Imagine flying down on a property from 300 feet in the air – highlighting details of the surrounding neighborhood and areas of interest nearby. Sweeping around the property, flying through the front door, then gliding from room to room. It’s a virtual tour that the buyer can take from the comforts of their mobile device. Drones are doing this and agents are capitalizing. “We recently had a buyer purchase a property on a large acreage – sight unseen. We sent her pictures and videos from the drone. These images helped give her a complete understanding of the property and more importantly, made her feel comfortable with the listing price. She lived in Oregon and wanted to relocate to the Midwest so it was difficult for her to house hunt. We had an offer within 24-hours of sending her the drone images. – Scott S. Real Estate Agent, Kansas City

Drones Benefiting Commercial, Industrial, and Land Real Estate

Residential real estate agents aren’t the only people benefiting from drones. The remaining sectors of real estate (commercial, industrial, and land) have benefited tremendously from the use of drone imaging.

Drones for Commercial and Industrial Real Estate

Commercial and industrial photographers are embracing drone imaging. In densely populated areas, drones can effectively showcase the size and scale of listings that can be difficult to capture from the ground. Images are also being used for inspection and surveying buildings that would otherwise be impossible for agents to access - this is especially helpful for high rises and other multi-unit projects. In many ways, commercial and industrial listings benefit from drone images in the same way as their residential counterpart.

Drones for Land Real Estate

One can argue that land real estate listings benefit the most from drone imaging. How does someone take a picture of 100 acres from the ground? It’s nearly impossible. Yet a drone can take breathtaking photos from as high as 400ft in the air and show key points of interest like proximity to major roads, towns, schools, and landmarks.

How to Use a Drone for Real Estate Marketing

  1. Hire a Local Professional

  2. Don’t crash! It might look easy, but flying a drone takes hours of practice. There is a learning curve to flying and crashes are likely - high stakes since drones run between $500 - $2,000. DJI is a manufacturer that makes quality rigs like the Inspire and Phantom.

  3. Did you pass the Part 107 exam? In the US, a person flying a drone for commercial purposes (yes, that includes all real estate listings) must have a UAV pilots license from the FAA. This is the case even if the agent is taking images of their own listing.

  4. Got insurance? The Pros do. These are flying robots (which is pretty incredible, really) and accidents can happen. Insurance coverage offers protection and peace of mind.

  5. Do you have the editing software and skills? Capturing quality images is just one part of the equation. Editing the footage into concise, breathtaking outcomes is what separates the amateurs from the professionals.

Full’s not THAT difficult to fly a drone. And for those of us who grew up playing video games, you’ll definitely get past the learning curve of using the remote control. But just understand that practice makes perfect and there are steps you have to take to fly legally. Plus you’ll need to have editing software and knowledge to produce content that will resonate with the viewer. It’s a good idea to hire-out for your first couple listings if you’re still experimenting with adding drone images to your marketing plan.

Ditch the Pros and DIY

Ok, so let’s say you’ve mastered steps 1-5 above. Here are some best practices that will enhance your real estate listings.

  1. Take long steady shots. Fast and jerky camera movements don’t bode well for professional looking videos and most of the footage you capture will be trimmed down for your final product.

  2. Always use a gimbal. A high quality 3-axis gimbal creates super steady shots. On most drones the gimbal is pre-mounted to the belly of the fuselage and uses electric motors to stabilize the camera while the drone is powered on.

  3. Incorporate a handheld steady cam for your virtual tours. Flying a drone indoors can be risky, and most insurance providers don't offer coverage if you fly inside. You’ll want your smooth drone shots to seamlessly integrate with interior footage. To achieve this, a mechanical motion stabilizer is your best option. And similar to the gimbal mentioned above, these stabilizers use electric motors to capture clean, flowing shots. They typically run about $500. Here’s a good one made by YI called the 4k+ Action Camera.

  4. Edit your pictures and video. Most computers already have some form of pre-installed editing software for pictures and video. If you’ve never edited before then it may take some getting used to. Editing photos is usually easier than video and there are many tutorials online that can help.

  5. Have 2-3 backup batteries. Typical battery life on a drone will give you 20 - 25 minutes of flight time under normal conditions. If you’re fighting the wind or covering long distances, then battery life will diminish more quickly. A typical real estate shoot uses 3 batteries.

  6. Fly legal. If you’re flying a drone for business purposes then the FAA requires that you pass the Part 107 exam and obtain a UAV pilots license. This applies even if you’re capturing images of your own listing.

  7. Fly safe. Hands down the most important step. Many things can go wrong when the drone is airborne, so ensure that you have completed necessary pre-flight checks (no fly zones, airspace clearance, environmental hazards, mechanical functionality, battery life, etc) and operate with caution while flying (line of sight, spotter, hazards, proximity to people, etc).

Drones for Real Estate

Stand out from the pack and build your book of business. If you’re not using a drone for real estate marketing then now is the time to consider adding it to your strategy.

Got Questions? We’re Happy to Chat!

Andrew Patch Founder – Heartland Drone Company

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