How Drones Are Changing Real Estate

In one of the many ways evolving technology is affecting the real estate industry, the usage of unmanned aircraft systems, or ‘drones,’ is providing brokers and agents with sophisticated tools for marketing properties.

The detailed aerial views drones provide are an affordable way to showcase homes, a plus in that MLS statistics show homes with aerial images sell 68 percent faster than those without.

As you consider using the technology, keep in mind how it can be best used.

  • Raise your profile as an agent. First, it’s a great way to stand out from the pack. Since drone use is still new to the industry and trendy, you can carve out a niche as an innovator. According to the industry research firm RIS Media, 73 percent of homeowners report they are more likely to list with an agent who uses video to market homes and in the future, those not using the technology will likely be in the minority.
  • Mapping and 3D. Images captured by drone are at a much higher resolution compared to aerial survey. Software can sew together drone photos of property with GPS information to create a video-game like appearance of a property, allowing the viewer to ‘fly’ around it and see all angles. This is great for large or unique properties that don’t photograph well from the ground, and you can even use it to show potential buyers the entire neighborhood in which they are looking.
  • Surveys and Site. Drones aren’t just for taking pretty pictures. Part of the beauty of a high-quality unmanned system is they can go where man can’t, or they can go to tough areas easier and faster than human surveyors. They can not only capture hard to access features like streams and culverts but also detect landscape features that may be hidden by ground cover.
  • Home inspectors often risk limb, if not life, inspecting the roofs of residential properties and commercial property inspectors often face more risks when assessing industrial ones. Properly programmed drones give you the ability to safely capture the information you need from all angles, without the risk.

But as with any emerging technology, there are also a few items to which you should pay attention, so let’s review those, too.

  • Hire a licensed drone operator. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates drone usage and requires commercial operators to be licensed. A drone license only costs $150, so it may be worth your while to have someone in your firm become licensed to shoot all your properties rather than paying an outside contractor per session.
  • Be mindful of privacy issues. Not everyone is enamored of having drones flying over their property. Be courteous and let neighbors know what you are up to before your drone causes unintended neighborhood panic.
  • Check your insurance. What goes up doesn’t necessarily come down, but there’s always a chance. Make sure your insurance covers the liability of a crashing drone.

Fortunately, the National Association of Realtors is on top of the trend and has a resource page with questions and answers for those navigating the government’s drone regulations and best practices as agents begin to incorporate drones in listing strategies. When in doubt, check www.nar.realtor.