There’s just something beautiful about viewing a piece of property from the air using a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), or, what everyone else calls them today, a drone.
A great aerial photograph can give you an interesting sense of perspective for a home and it’s environment.
But most important for you, the Real Estate Agent, aerial photography and videos are powerful branding and marketing tools to use for your business.
Drone technology is some of the most exciting new tech for the real estate industry since DSLR cameras were invented.
This tech can give you an edge over your competition, but like all new exciting tech and marketing if it’s not used correctly you’ll just be spending a lot of time and money without any results to show from it.
In this guide I’m going to walk you though everything you’ll need to know about how to use aerial photography and videos in your real estate business.
What you need to do before you hire a drone pilot…
If aerial photography and videos are going to be used in your marketing, then the first question you should be asking yourself is:
Where and how should you best use this technology?
If you’re only going to use drones when you get that million dollar listing, then you’ll get the short term benefits in helping you sell the listing, but there’s a bigger long-term play here.
Although not all properties are good candidates for drone photography and videos, they should be used on a consistent basis for every property that is a good candidate.
And why would an agent do this?
Because that is what branding and marketing is all about.
It’s not your logo or your brokerage that is going to attract more buyers and sellers to want to work with you.
It’s YOU, and what YOU offer them.
Why should a homeowner trust you with selling one of the biggest assets they own?
Aerial photography and videos are just tools that we use to enhance how people view homes online. They should be used more often, but they aren’t by most agents. And that is where the opportunity is.
I believe buyers and sellers should look at you as being the true “expert” in real estate marketing. And you can’t just say you’re the expert, you actually have to do it in practice.
And this is where we can connect the dots.
You can show off your “marketing expertise” and what you offer your clients with your visuals, like, listing photos and videos.
When you walk into a listing presentation, and the property is a great candidate for aerial photography and video you will want to include aerial as part of your marketing plan for selling and marketing that home.
Make aerial photography and video a consistent part of your overall marketing for selling homes and you will appear to be technology advanced and progressive in your marketing.
4 Checks every real estate agent needs to make before hiring a Drone Pilot
You have to make a choice. Either you get licensed and insured, learn how to fly a drone, and then how to edit the photos and videos yourself.
Or, you hire someone to do it for you.
For most real estate agents, the later is more practical.
Before you hire a drone pilot for your next listing make sure to check off these 4 items.
1. Hire only Licensed UAV Pilots to fly who are Part 107 Certified
Any UAV (drone) flights that are being flown for a commercial purpose will fall under the FAA’s jurisdiction of airspace in Part 107.
Which means if you’re going to take aerial photos and videos with a drone flying through the air, then you have to follow the rules of the FAA, because they control ALL of the airspace.
Even if no money is being exchanged, and you ask your neighbors 16 year old kid to take aerial shots, or you own your own drone, it doesn’t matter.
Once the flight is deemed to be a commercial flight it’s the FAA’s concern and airspace. Any drone pilot operating a commercial flight must have a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA which is found in their regulation Part 107.
Before you hire a drone pilot, make sure to verify that they have the proper credentials from the FAA.
They should have a badge like this from the FAA to show you.
2. Liability Insurance
Flying drones can be a dangerous business because sometimes they crash. You can lose control of the drone from a weak connection and it may fly away and crash on a neighbors house, a car, or even worse on your neighbor.
The drone pilot you hire must have insurance, and should be able to EASILY provide proof of their coverage and policy.
Today, there are many different insurance companies that specifically offer “drone insurance” for drone pilots. It’s affordable and easy to access.
Having drone insurance will also let you know if the pilot you’re considering to hire is actually serious about their business.
I’ve seen and met many “drone pilots and operators” who where not only not licensed through the FAA, but also uninsured.
I’ve also seen many of them operate illegal flights within no-fly zones.
3. Photo and Video Portfolio
If your drone pilot is serious about his or her business, then they need to have a portfolio of their work online.
How else can you make an educated decision about bringing this individual out to your listing and meet your clients if you have no idea what they are capable of producing?
Also, how can you make a judgement call on pricing without seeing the quality of a drone pilots work.
It’s never been easier than today to have a portfolio for all of your digital images and videos online. So make sure you drone pilot has one.
Want to see my aerial portfolio? CLICK HERE
4. Flying in a No-Fly Zone
Flying in a no-fly zone, is a huge No-No and usually illegal.
There are thousands of no-fly zones across the country and your next listing may fall inside one of them.
If your drone operator is a FAA Part 107 licensed and certified UAV Pilot, has UAV (drone) liability insurance, and has a public portfolio of his/her work, then there’s a good chance that they are following all of the rules and will not be flying in any no-fly zones.
No matter how big the listing is, or how beautiful the lot and topography around the home are, please do not hire anyone to fly a drone for your listing in a no-fly, restricted zone. By doing so you will be committing an illegal act under 49 U.S. Code 46306, section 8.
The individual who hires an illegal pilot or a pilot who is going to fly an illegal flight is equally guilty under the current law.
In the photo below you can see all of the no-fly zones near where I live in Oceanside, CA. To the north we have Camp Pendleton and just south of me there is a regional airport. The no-fly zones are outlined in the blue grids.
You can get waivers authorizations from the FAA in certain scenarios and within no-fly zones, but only a licensed FAA pilot can get those. Make sure to plan ahead of time first before telling your client you are going to use aerial photos and videos.
A VERY AWESOME LISTINGS MARKETING TECHNIQUE:
Professional aerial photo & video editing
Unfortunately, there are many drone pilots who are shooting aerial photos and videos but not doing much editing to them.
Every photo and video taken from a drone must be edited in post-production using photo and/or video editing software. Without post-production editing the photos and videos are not complete.
Even though the cameras on most drones today are capable of producing some really wonderful images, they still sill need corrections to color and contrast, as well as, lens correction to straighten out lines.
This is why viewing their portfolio is so important.
Here’s some examples. In this first photo you’re looking at a complete raw image straight out of camera. It’s not bad, but it could be better.
In the next photo, you can see the fully edited photo. We added some color, brightness, contrast, and fixed the grass. Removed the real estate sign and the work truck!
Plus, we did some lens corrections to the overall photo. These are small little things but together they make the difference between a professional photo and one that is not.
A real estate agent’s legal liabilities to hiring a drone pilot.
Earlier I mentioned 49 U.S. Code 46306, section 8.
Hiring a non licensed pilot or knowingly being part of an illegal flight puts whomever is doing the hiring equally liable as the pilot themselves.
Just like in real estate, you would never practice real estate without your license.
Drones are no different. Make sure you verify that whomever you are going to hire is licensed, insured, and don’t fly were you are not supposed to, because you may also liable if something bad happens.
I’m not a lawyer, or play one on TV, but make sure you talk to your attorney to get more info regarding your liabilities in hiring a drone pilot.
It’s not worth the risk by not doing it legally.
Using aerial video in your listings marketing
Using aerial video for your virtual tour videos helps you look like a marketing pro for you sellers and potential buyers.
Listings marketing is not only just about selling the home.
It’s just as much, if not more, about delivering a full experience for your home-sellers.
In the video above, we had a very small and simple home with a pretty unique lake and walking path located right in it’s backyard. Even though the list price was on the low end, the agent still used professional photos, videos, and drones to fully market the property just like if it were a million dollar listing.
The end result was a client that was absolutely thrilled to see the agent use so much great marketing to sell their small, modest home.
Most important in using aerial video is to not make the whole video an aerial one. People will still want to see the inside of the property no matter how awesome the property is on the outside.
It’s best to use aerial video for dramatic intros and outros in videos and to show some perspective for a properties landscape.
Using aerial photography in your listings marketing
Aerial photographs should be used to complement your ground level exterior photos and they should not replace them.
Just like your aerial videos, you want the incorporate drone technology to into your listing presentation and be a part of what your offer homeowners.
Again, this is going to help you stand out as an agent.
Planning for the weather
Weather conditions are something that you have to plan for when using drones.
You cannot fly a drone when it’s snowing or raining. Plus, if there are strong wind conditions you might be grounded from flying.
It’s important to schedule your aerial shoot ahead of time and not the day before the home goes live on the market.
Finally, the sun plays a big role in your exterior photos and videos. Really dark cloudy days are not going to result in very good photos and videos for your listing.
Also, the direction your listing faces should be taken into consideration. If the sun shines on the front of the home during the morning hours, this is going to be the ideal time to shoot the front exterior because in the afternoon hours you’re likely to have a strong shadow covering the front.
If the property is on a lake or ocean, you’ll especially want to take this into consideration.
Make sure to give as much information as you can to your drone pilot to get some feedback on when is going to be the best time to shoot your listing.
You have to find a licensed FAA UAV pilot or become one yourself. Whichever path you choose, DO IT.
Start using this technology and incorporate it into your overall marketing of your business.
Then start using these visuals in your social media marketing and on your website.
That’s it, I hope you got some good info out of this video, blog post, and podcast. And I would love to know what you think of it.