How to Use Drones in Real Estate | Real Estate Agent | BMO Harris
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A real estate agent uses a drone

If you have your pulse on technology, you probably already know that drones are starting to take off in the real estate world. In fact, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR)Third Party Link went so far as to testify in a court of lawThird Party Link that drones have the potential to create new jobs and specialized businesses in the real estate industry.
Also known as unmanned aerial devices, drones are already being used throughout different industries, such as agriculture and public safety. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is continuing to work to make it safer and easier for drones to be used commercially.
With the NAR advocating for their use by real estate agents and more people wanting to take advantage of the technology, you may start to see them taking flight in your area. But before you launch your own drone marketing strategy, you’ll first want to weigh the benefits, as well as the challenges involved.
Benefits of using a drone:

  • Staying on top of technology: Drones are definitely up and coming and if you get in on the trend sooner rather than later, you could potentially have an edge on your competition. While most real estate agents will still be relying on their standard photos, drones can help you provide your clients with a virtual walk around a home’s exterior and walk-through of its interior before they even set foot on the property. This may impress your clients and could lead to more word-of-mouth referrals.
  • 360-degree views: With the proper certification, using a drone to promote homes is a great way to show your clients a new perspective. Not only will they get an aerial view of the home, but they’ll also see where it’s situated in the neighborhood, how close it is to high-traffic streets and more. Because of these factors, using a drone could help them decide to purchase a home quicker and with more confidence.
  • Fewer hidden faults: A drone can show faults in the home that may not otherwise be noticed so early in the home-buying process, such as a ruined roof or a tree that’s too close to a window. Knowing these issues exist ahead of time can help your clients cross homes off their list sooner and save time on in-person visits.

Challenges of using a drone: 

  • Paperwork: In many cases, you will need to register your drone with the Federal Aviation AdministrationThird Party Link. At this time, it’s illegal to fly a drone without the proper certification and licensureThird Party Link.
  • Rules and more rules: There are a lot of rules when it comes to flying a droneThird Party Link, whether for commercial or recreational use. For example:
    • You must keep the drone within sight
    • You can’t fly over populated areas
    • You have to keep the drone within 400 feet of the ground
    • You can’t fly near airports, schools, churches, stadiums or power stations

As drones become more popular, the laws involving them may become stricter, so you’ll regularly need to check with the FAA to keep up to date on drone laws.

  • Safety first: Although most drones come with first-person view (as in a video game, you can see what your drone sees), there are limited fields of view above, below and to the sides. As a result, there are risks and safety issuesThird Party Link. In order to operate a drone safely, you’ll need to have an assistant on hand during flights, so that one of you can take the first-person view, while the other watches for potential dangers, such as branches above or below the drone. There’s also a risk you’ll hurt yourself or someone else: Users have reported deep lacerations and other personal injuries from their drones landing or crashing near them.

If you’re seriously considering adding a drone to your marketing mix, you’ll want to know that it can cost you anywhere from $40 to tens of thousands of dollarsThird Party Link. However, there’s also the option of hiring a licensed company to take the images you need, which could potentially save you time — they’ll be responsible for filling out the necessary paperwork, so you can spend more time selling homes.

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