Guest Post courtesy of Andy Lassiter.
Aerial photography is quickly being adopted as an essential component of savvy real estate marketing programs across the world. By using drones, aerial photographers create stunning photos that show properties in visual context to the surrounding area. This is especially ideal for waterfront properties, large estates, and unique geographic features. Top agents know that drone photos and videos make for amazing marketing content and featured images on listings, websites, and social media.
As the technology becomes more accessible, interest in aerial photography is at an all-time high. Businesses specializing in aerial imaging are popping up in nearly every major market, and some agents are even investing in their own aircraft to create the images themselves. However, many real estate professionals still hesitate to employ this technology due to misinformation and confusing regulations around the industry.
Before hiring an aerial photographer or making the investment yourself, there are a few essential things to consider.
Due to the confusing laws surrounding commercial drone use, some real estate agencies have gone as far as implementing a company-wide policy of no aerial photography. This is largely because of the grey area created by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the regulatory agency responsible for the drone industry. Beginning in 2012, the FAA implemented the so-called Section 333 Exemption, which is required for all commercial drone operations. This exemption was hard to attain and required a long waiting period to receive.
Beginning in 2016, the FAA announced new registration requirements for all drone operators (commercial and recreational). The new system created more accountability in the industry by requiring all drones over 0.55 pounds to be in a federal database and tagged with a corresponding license number. Any drones used in real estate marketing must be tagged with the correct registration, which can now be easily obtained online through the FAA website.
Safety and liability
The reason for all of this regulation is simple. Drones can be dangerous. No-fly zones exist around all major airports and some high-density municipalities. Drones can interfere with commercial planes and potentially cause serious injury to people or property. Safe operation of drones is an absolute requirement.
Most professional drone pilots have hundreds of hours of experience and are well covered with insurance. The possibility that a drone could crash on a structure, individual or vehicle is a real concern. Before hiring an individual or organization to create aerial real estate photos, it is perfectly reasonable to ask for FAA paperwork and documentation of a general business liability insurance policy.
After navigating through the legal requirements of marketing with drone images, there are a few important considerations in regards to quality. The old saying “you get what you pay for” certainly applies here. High-end professional drones can cost $5,000 or more, but are overkill for most real estate marketing needs. More important than the equipment is the skill of the operator in creating good images and video.
Starting out, many pilots do not have the experience necessary to capture steady video or properly shoot and edit still photos. Beginner pilots tend to fly their aircraft too fast and with jerky movement that takes away from the production value and makes viewers queasy. Good aerial photos will be composed artistically with consideration to natural lighting and edited with professional software for a color grade that is consistent with other photos in the listing.
Hiring an aerial photographer
Once an agent has made the decision to create aerial photos for a listing, keeping these tips in mind will help make an informed hiring decision. Prices can vary widely, so as with many creative services, choose someone with a combination of professionalism and style that suits you and your agency. Most photography services are happy to answer questions and are focused on customer satisfaction.
Using beautiful aerial photos for real estate marketing is a cutting edge tool for listing agents and a sure way to separate yourself from the competition at sales meetings. When done right, aerial photos create buzz around your real estate business and generate interest in your marketing program. Right now, the aerial imaging business is literally taking off, and for top agents, the sky is no longer the limit.
About the Author
Andy Lassiter is the owner of Keen Eye Marketing, a company that specializes in drone photography and videography for the real estate industry. He’s also a contributing writer for eBay and recommends their electronics section to anyone considering an investment in drones.