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Drones have landed in the real estate industry

Real estate is the second largest industry for drone use, after aerial photography, which is easy to understand by looking at the compelling aerial photos and videos used by many real estate agents today. Drones are technically called UAVs “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles” or, when referring to the drone and ground control unit, an “Unmanned Aircraft System” (UAS). Today, UAVs are very affordable, easy to operate, and highly maneuverable. Although a pilot’s license was once required for commercial drone use, the FAA now allows operation with a remote pilot certificate (FAA Section 107 regulations).

How and why drones benefit the real estate industry

Differentiating property listings by offering high-quality aerial photography and video is a hot topic for real estate agents today. Statistics show that houses with aerial images sell 68 percent faster than houses marketed with standard photos. Here are 9 ways real estate agents and brokers are profiting from drones:

1. Drone photography offers dramatic and captivating images.

Using modern drone technology allows real estate professionals to create exceptional shots with ease. The use of GPS programmed flight paths combined with automatic camera orientation at points of interest results in professional and attractive views.

2. Drones can take attractive virtual tours.

A camera drone can fly through a home or office building and travel through each room, creating a detailed virtual tour that stationary photography can’t capture. Today’s video editing software makes it easy for agents to create a professional voiceover soundtrack, giving the potential buyer a rich and compelling visual story.

3. Drone photography can show enhanced features of the property.

Aerial photography can capture shots of landscapes, outdoor living areas, swimming pools, hot tubs, walking trails, nearby parks, local schools, and other interesting features potential buyers will want to see.

4. Drone photography is attractive to sellers and will generate new business for the real estate agent.

Using drone photography and video to market properties is a huge selling point for potential sellers, who want their property to be presented in the best light possible.

5. Drones give real estate agents a competitive advantage.

Real estate listings with images and videos produced by drones outperform listings that only offer traditional photos, resulting in higher sales for the agent.

6. Drones are a profitable alternative.

Drones are cheap to buy and use. Or real estate agents can profitably outsource aerial photography to professional drone operators.

7. Drones offer high-end impact for luxury homes.

Drone photography can highlight a waterfront view, highlight a beautiful garden, expansive grounds, unique pools, or water features. Aerial drone photography is capable of capturing the elegance of a high-end property in a way that no other method of photography can.

8. Drones offer advantages for commercial real estate and property development.

Drones are being used to plan high-rise apartments and other multi-unit residential projects. They are used to survey, appraise, and market property to potential buyers, and for aerial overviews of the land to be developed and surrounding neighborhoods.

9. Drones help with roof and home inspections.

A drone allows inspectors to pinpoint roofing and other issues in ways a ladder never would. Beyond offering a safer inspection solution, they can easily identify issues related to raised shingles, bent flashing, or chimneys.

Current FAA regulations

All drones weighing more than half a pound (0.55 pounds) must be registered with the FAA. The cost to register drones is only $5, but the fine for using an unregistered drone can be as high as $25,000 per UAV. Current FAA guidelines include:

• Drones cannot be flown within 5 miles of an airport or terminal.

• Written permission is required from each person before drones can fly over or photograph them.

• Commercial drones are limited to an altitude of 400 feet.

• Drone pilots must remain in line of sight of the drone they are operating at all times.

• All operators must obtain a drone/UAV operator’s license from the FAA.

Risk protection for real estate agents

While the risk of damage and injury is very low when it comes to drone photography, there are some risks involved. All drone operators must have commercial drone insurance. Most drone operators should consider accident and liability insurance. Many real estate companies require a $1 million minimum liability limit for outside operators. There are several types of coverage applicable to drones, including:

• Civil liability insurance for drones

• Hull insurance (damage to the actual drone)

• Drone payload insurance

• Land equipment insurance

Drone liability insurance protects the operator and company from third party claims or property damage. Some policies may extend your insurance coverage to protection against financial loss associated with negligence and invasion of privacy. All real estate agents using drones should review their coverages to ensure they are protected when using this growing technology.

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