Drones Take Off in Real Estate

Drones Take Off in Real Estate


Drones are getting increased use in the real estate industry for good reason. When equipped with cameras, drones are able to capture high-resolution images of residential & commercial real estate from a bird’s eye view. It allows agents to showcase their property in innovative ways. Although as of late, there has been some concern as to whether or not drones can be used for commercial purposes. This article will help to alleviate some of that uncertainty, as well as provide general information about the fairly new technology.


1. About drones

Although drones have been receiving increased press over the past year, they have been used in the real estate industry for at least the past 5 years. Drones are relatively small, unmanned aircraft that are piloted using a remote control. Drones by themselves are not useful to real estate. But when equipped with a camera, they can prove to be a valuable asset to an agent or broker. Drone technology allows for unparalleled views of any individual property – no matter how small or large. While it is true that Google Maps and other satellite imaging providers have been around for years and provide decent quality photographs, drones can provide high-quality pictures customized just for an individual property.


2. Government and drones

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) considers flying drones for commercial purposes to be illegal. However, earlier this year a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) judge struck down the FAA’s ban on commercial drones. Despite the judge’s ruling, the FAA may impose a $10,000 fine for anyone who uses the technology for commercial gain. The differing viewpoints from each of the government agencies make drone usage uncertain as of now, although the ambiguity has not stopped real estate agents from utilizing the technology.

While the government is still refining drone regulations, it requires the unmanned vehicles to be flown within 400 feet of the ground. They also must weigh less than 55 pounds.


3. Cost

Drones can cost as low as a few hundred dollars to rent, allowing them to be economically accessible to any real estate agent. Agents can either fly it themselves or contract a third-party that will control the drone and photograph/videotape a property. Buying a drone – with the camera included – costs anywhere from $750 to thousands of dollars.


4. A unique perspective for prospective buyers

Prospective buyers obviously don't get to see the drone in action, but they do get to see the unique perspective of the property that the innovative technology permits. Imagine a bird's eye view of a office building, warehouse or strip mall. The footage captures a glimpse of the daily activity, road traffic, freeway access, etc. This may help especially if a foreign or out-of-area investor is not able to visit a property they are interested in purchasing. Showing them video footage captured from a drone in real time may help them make their decision a little easier.



There are so many advantages to using drones – they are easy to maneuver (by remote control), are relatively inexpensive, and they provide a unique view of the property. Drones have great potential in other commercial fields than real estate. One day they may replace delivery trucks to deliver packages. We're interested to see how the federal government will further handle drone usage in the short and long term.

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