Using Drones for Real Estate Photography

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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?

In order to operate a drone for any business purposes (to make money) in the United States you will need a license.

This is called a Remote Pilot Certificate.

Remote Pilot Prep Course

The Prep Course by Drone Launch Academy is comprehensive and fairly priced. 

They’re so confident  they’ll give your money back as well as the $150 test fee if you should fail. 

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 small (starting at around 500 USD)
  • 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

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.

Turn your drone hobby into a Drone Business.

Make Money from Aerial Video

A complete guide to shooting, editing and profiting from aerial video from the pros at Drone Launch Academy. 30-days no questions asked guarantee.

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 4 Professional.

It is super stable, shoots crystal clear video and is not difficult for a beginner to use, while still having massive professional potential. The price is slightly higher than the average user drones, but it is not too large,it is easy to use, and has lots of advanced video and flight features.

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

Legal Issues 2015

Drone laws change continuously, and the information below was written in December of 2015, and is not valid anymore.

Since August of 2016 drones can be used for many different real estate purposes.

The best way to get the up to date info on the subject of drones and real estate is the National Association of Realtors (NAR) which now endorses the use of drones for real estate purposes.

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 previously suggested that all professionals in the field refrain from using drones. (This is no longer truesee this page from NAR)

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 2015

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.

Turn your drone hobby into a Drone Business.

Make Money from Aerial Video

A complete guide to shooting, editing and profiting from aerial video from the pros at Drone Launch Academy. 30-days no questions asked guarantee.

Jesse Young

9 thoughts on “Using Drones for Real Estate Photography”

  1. If I were buying a home, I think having drone shot footage of a home I’m looking to buy would be really helpful. I like how you pointed out though that it may be beneficial to hire a professional to shoot the photos so as to ensure they are of good quality. I’d be more willing to spend money on a home that I can see from above.

  2. Thank you for all this great information about the benefits of drones! One thing that really stands out to me is that they can actually help you take long steady shots. It would be nice to get something that you usually won’t be able to see.

  3. Excellent reasons to use drone photography. After working with real estate agents for both residential and commercial properties, I can tell you that once they see what is possible and watch listings close faster, they continue to market with drone photography.

  4. do you need approval from commercial property owners to photography there property if you are doing it for no profit gain , even if you are FAA certified ?

  5. I thought it was great how the article mentioned that a well-made aerial video can serve as a virtual tour for a potential new home. My wife and I have been trying to find a new home once we sell our current one, but it’s difficult to get an accurate idea of what houses truly look like from a few pictures. It would be great for us to see a video that shows the dimensions of a home in better detail.

  6. I like the advice you gave to shoot the same shot multiple times with a drone just in case you lose it. Imagine if you got a beautiful shot of a house with the sunset behind it but you lost that footage. It would take too long to replicate it so it’s better to take multiple shots the first time.

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