Drones are transforming a variety of industries, from delivery services through to inspecting solar panels and everything in between. One pioneering sector that long ago embraced drone technology is real estate. Back in 2012, when drones were still in their infancy, realty commentators like Anita Cooper broadened the industry for the new breed of airborne robots by writing educational articles in trade magazines and websites. With the passage of time, drones have now become a crutial part of the realty business landscape.
Ernie Miller of Cecil County, for example, has been an avid cinematographer since childhood. He has integrated that passion into his realty day job by capturing shots of properties with a drone. To do so legally in the USA, realtors must have an appropriate exemption or pass the Part 107 exam from the FAA.
Ernie uses a Phantom 4 aircraft manufactured by the drone industry leader, DJI. The Phantom 4 has a 4K camera, can travel up to 4.3 miles from the operator and has a front-facing obstacle sensing system. The camera can capture butter-smooth, fluid shots which is a crucial feature for real estate footage.
Miller explains the virtues of using drones, particularly in rural areas, “it is ideal when you have a large property or a farm,” he explains. “It’s also great for waterfront properties. Shooting from the air gives you a good angle of the property from the water. You are able to get the dock and the home in the background. Getting a shot from a boat, you don’t get the scope of the property like you do shooting from a drone.”
Hud Benson, is another local realtor who utilizes drones. He began his drone journey using the DJI Phantom 2 Vision in 2014.
The legacy drone models used by both Miller and Benson have been superseded by far more capable aircraft, recently launched by DJI. Notably, the Phantom 4 Professional has a 1-inch 20MP CMOS sensor able to capture 4K-resolution at 60fps. The aircraft boasts a network of forward, rear, side and downward sensors for obstacle avoidance.
The brand new Phantom 4 Advanced released by DJI in April 2017 features an identical camera sensor to the Phantom 4 Professional, but does not have the rear and side obstacle avoidance sensors.
With both models you get the option to have DJI’s remote controller with an integrated high-brightness display.
The advantage of using a drone for real estate is that the full overview of a property can be captured – cheaply. The only alternative would be using an expensive helicopter or airplane. Luxury properties, in particular, benefit from the characteristic cinematic long sweeping shot that can be achieved with a drone.
“I have used my drone to shoot farms that are for sale,” Benson comments, “it is also a nice tool for doing an elevation photo of a home in a case where the neighborhood is an asset and you want to show where that home is in relationship to the other homes and the surroundings.”
Very generously, Benson also frames an aerial shot of a property and gifts that to the realty customer after they transition into their new home.
As evidenced by both Miller and Benson, realtors have much to gain from incorporating drones into their workflow. Utilizing drones in the realty sector will only become more popular as this astounding technology continues to evolve.