If you are like many of the real estate agents reading this dissertation, you probably consider yourself a master of the latest technology. I bet you spend plenty of time on social media and perhaps some of your clients have come to you as a result of a Tweet, a post on Facebook, or a Snapchat photo. Chances are your internet listings are always up-to-date and attractive to clients. Maybe you even offer podcasts or write a blog.
That means you’re no doubt also an expert at using the technological tools required for your job and maybe you have gone the extra mile to learn how to make the most of those tools. So, what’s next on your list of technological tricks?
How about a drone? After all, they are super-cool, rather futuristic, and you have heard that they can provide Realtors® and their clients with an extra edge when it comes to selling a home. But it is natural to have reservations about their use. In general, there’s a good chance that the thought of using a drone – also known as a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) - makes you nervous. After all, the list of rules governing commercial drone use is long, and perhaps you just don’t want to take that chance of doing something so out-of-the-box.
These days, however, there’s not as much to worry about when it comes to drone usage. In late 2015, the FAA outlined a very comprehensive set of rules and regulations for drone use, and they issued more than 500 permits to commercial users. More than 30 percent of those permits went to real estate professionals, according to Zillow. Add to that the fact that the FAA says they’re issuing new permits at the rate of about 250 a month, and it’s easy to see that the trend is growing.
Will that number continue to rise? Most likely. Will the drone idea stick? It’s hard to predict, but there’s a good chance that as the price of drones come down, and easier to use models become available, requests for permits will continue to rise.
Even if the use of a drone for your real estate business isn’t something you’ve yet considered, it’s important to understand that there are many advantages to the technology built in to professional drones.
Below I list 8 reasons why I think these ultra-fab gadgets might just be the “next big thing” for real estate professionals.
It's video, plus!
Many individuals who’ve decided to use drones as part of their real estate business already had experience with video marketing and chose to go in the drone direction not so much to start something new but to enhance what they’re already doing. If you know your stuff, you know that a home advertised via the use of video footage gets four times more viewings than those without, according to a variety of surveys. Just imagine the kind of traffic your ads will get with drone footage.
Affordable aerial imagery
If you’ve hired someone to shoot aerial photography in the past, the chances are that person was a pilot. In the past, the only means of taking aerial photography or video was via a helicopter or small plane and, often, prices for such videography or photography services would run hundreds – or sometimes thousands – of dollars. That means you used that service very discriminately, providing it only to luxury clients with expensive homes. With drones, that cost is reduced drastically, and aerial photographs are used for homes of a wider price range.
Drones make your listing "cool"
Drones make your listing “cool” – This sounds like a rather inane statement, but it’s true. If you were browsing listings, wouldn’t you stop to watch an aerial video that was taken by a drone? So, if you are using a drone to shoot video or still photographs, state that fact clearly and you will get plenty of views from prospective buyers. And, of course, you might even pick up a few sellers who would love it if you used a drone to photograph their home!
See the "other side of the fence"
Buyers can see what is on the “other side of the fence” – So often, a home buyer's decision is affected not only by the particulars of the home listed for sale but by what’s around it as well, including issues such as a neighboring property or proximity to neighbors. Drone footage allows prospective buyers to view surrounding properties before they make a decision to schedule an appointment to see the listing. If they don’t like what they see, they won’t make that appointment. Finding the right buyers saves you and the homeowners plenty of time and aggravation.
Customers can view the neighborhood
Potential customers can view the entire neighborhood – With aerial photographs of your neighborhood provided by a drone, potential buyers can judge their proximity to amenities such as playgrounds for the kids, community swimming pools, paths for walking or riding bikes, the clubhouse, and much more. For those with children, aerial views can help determine the distance to schools or the school bus stop.
Get serious lookers at open houses
You will get more serious lookers at open houses – If you provide a drone-shot video tour of a house, it’s pretty much a guarantee that those who watch it can make a decision as to their interest before they arrive at your open house. That means fewer “looky-loos” and more qualified traffic through your all-important open houses. That results in better offers and more potential clients. “Once you take a virtual tour of a house shot with a drone, you will understand that, in five years, nobody will ever go to an open house without first seeing these videos,” proclaims Andrew Amato of dronelife.com.
Luxury home market presence
You can increase your presence in the luxury home market – Drone footage will no doubt soon become a “must have” rather than a “nice to have” in the realm of luxury home listings. If you’re hoping to attract listings in that category, which – of course – increases your earning potential, you’ll soon recognize that a drone is essential. Recent studies show that more than 35 percent of all luxury home marketing posted on the internet in 2016 will include drone photography.
You will stand out from the crowd
You will stand out from the crowd – Because drone use is still in its infancy stages, if you are one of the first real estate agents in your area to use drones on your listings and if you market that fact, you will stand out from all the other listing agents in your area. Why not add the “wow factor” to your business!
To Buy or Not to Buy a Drone
If this list of reasons to purchase a drone has convinced you to give drones a try, remember that there are a few different options relating to obtaining footage.
It is not necessary for you to immediately apply for a permit and purchase a drone. There are plenty of companies to hire for the job, usually at an average cost of about $350 per house (price depending on what particulars you seek, of course). Drone operators can provide you with both video and still photography so you will be getting a lot of bang for your buck, so to speak.
If, however, you decide to purchase a drone, I would recommend the DJI Phantom 3 Professional model. Which is the drone I own and it is quite easy to fly, and it shoots 4K video at up to 30 frames per second as well as takes 12-megapixel photographs.
For first time fliers, the DJI Phantom 3 Professional model offers a Beginner Mode, which limits the distance and altitude you can fly, protecting your drone (and your investment!) while you learn how to navigate safely. It also includes a worry-free autopilot option as well as a "return to home" button.
One of this drone’s best features is the high definition (HD) view. As you fly the drone, you can watch on your phone or tablet – in real time – everything the camera is filming via a 720p HD view. The image is amazingly clear and allows you an immersive view that can help you determine what footage will work best for your sellers and will speak to your potential buyers. The live view works for distances spanning approximately 3.1 miles from your location, depending on interference and other factors.
Finally, it is all connected to an easy-to-use, powerful mobile app that lets you not only control the camera and change the flight settings from your mobile device but also provides instant video downloading and editing, access to live maps and radar, and much more.