Using Drones for Real Estate Photography

real estate droneMany industries and businesses are already reliant on drones for their everyday operations. The world of real estate is no different. The applications are many. Can drones, however, really be used in real estate? Can these be incorporated legally in business activities and if so, what steps do you have to undertake?

Drones in Real Estate Photography: How Does It Work?

Just a couple of months ago, both clients and agents were wondering – how could a drone be used to sell property? Aerial photography adds a cool touch to adding and selling property.

  • Drones move effortlessly above areas that will be difficult to access otherwise
  • Drones are perfect for creating HD video clips and giving the potential buyer a better idea about the property
  • A well-made aerial video can serve as a virtual tour – going from the entrance through the different rooms and even the backyard
  • Clients are looking for interactive and realistic presentations and because of this fact, aerial videos are a wonderful form of promotion
  • Depending on the needs of a real estate business, the investment in a drone can be minimal (from 40 to a few hundred dollars)
  • A drone can help you establish your reputation as an innovative real estate agent who’s willing to embrace new trends and use those to benefit clients

But before getting started with aerial photography, it’s important to address all legal regulations.

Legal Issues

The United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed regulations for the UAVs on the territory of the US. These regulations prohibited all use of unmanned aircraft for commercial uses. These commercial uses includes the real estate industry. The only ones having the legal right to use the technology for professional purposes were scientists, firefighters, national security agents and enforcement officers. However, even their carte-blanche was accompanied by strenuous regulations and limitations.

The regulations regard all UAVs having a weight uder 55 pounds. Each of these drones must have a licensed personal pilot (operator’s license needed), and each of these operators needs to be aged at least 17. The license is valid for a period of 17 months, after which it can either be renewed or revoked.

Selling a house

You can make amazing videos with a drone, that give customers a walk-through of the entire house. But you need to be aware of the legal requirements first.

The use of drones may be against the law for commercial uses, in general, but there are cases where the FAA does provide its go-ahead. Currently, FAA is handing out certificates of airworthiness to selected drones that are to be used for specific needs. Several real estate agencies have already received this certificate. Nonetheless, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has currently suggested that all professionals in the field refrain from using drones.

This seems very adequate, considering the recent case in which a University of Virginia photographer used a drone for commercial purposes. The young photographer was fined 10,000 dollars for the violation. However, the court had the case dismissed, raising questions about FAA’s right to take action against illegal drone use. Later, the FAA released an official statement on the matter, settling all arguments once and for all.
Since September 2015, when the new FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 was partly implemented, commercial use of UAVs has been allowed to a degree.

A field guide was released by NAR to help real estate agents and agency employees stay on top of the current legal situation in the US.

Regulatory Frameworks in Other Countries

In Australia, the limitations on commercial drone use have fallen recently and many real estate businesses already utilize the gadgets for the creation of their presentations. The use of aerial photography in property presentations has impacted buyer attitudes, as well.

What does this mean? Buyers are likely to come to the following conclusion when they see an aerial clip presenting the property:

  • The agency has put a lot of money in it
  • The agency is committed to high quality presentations, even if these cost money
  • The agency is eager to give its clients enough information, regardless of the format

Because of these buyer attitudes, agencies that already utilize drones for aerial photography have seen reputation improvement and increased buyer interest.

Real Estate Aerial Photography Tips

Great drone photos and videos cost more and need more time to be shot and edited than regular pictures. This is why a couple of important rules have to be followed for a quality outcome.

For best results, agents should hire professionals. Individuals that know how to fly drones and that have experience with aerial photography will be the ones that will produce the best outcome.

Aerial photo

For professional agencies using an experienced drone operator is recommended, see our tips below if you plan on shooting yourself.

If you want to hire a drone operator,or use a drone yourself, keep the following additional tips in mind:

  • Shoot long, steady shots. A drone with a gimbal will be needed because it will keep the camera steady.
  • Follow the 10-second rule: whenever you are done shooting the video, don’t stop filming right away. Instead, count slowly to 10 and then hit the stop button.
  • Practice makes perfect. It’s best to create the same clip a couple of times. Footage can be lost. Technical problems may occur. Having a few clips to choose among will give you options and versatility.
  • Use the wind. Allowing the drone to move naturally instead of against the air current can improve the quality of the footage.
  • Have a preliminary plan. Drone flying time is still limited. The best models can fly for 10 to 20 minutes before they run out of battery. If you have an idea about what you’d like to photograph or film, you’ll make the best use of the available shooting time.

Whether you want aerial clips or pictures of property, a drone can be the perfect business tool for you. The trend is still relatively new and if you act fast, you can become one of the innovators in the real estate field.

If you are looking for a drone for real estate photography and video, I would recommend the DJI Phantom 3 Professional. The camera is stabilized with a 3-axis gimbal, the video camera shoots in 4K and the photos are 12 megapixels. The price is slightly higher than the average user drones, but it is not too large,it is easy to use, and you can get crystal clear video.

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