VIDEO: The Best Real Estate Drone Footage Is Less Drone Footage

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Drone video from real estate

A primer for hiring drone videographers for real estate marketing

In military parlance, they’re called UAVs, or unmanned aerial vehicles.

“Drone” suggests the device operates autonomously, implying that it doesn’t require years of training to pilot.

There’s probably no selling that military acronym to the public today, as “drones” have become a popular way for people to capture extreme recreational exploits, or in the case of real estate, powerful listing visuals.

In the late nineties, it was digital cameras that allowed real estate professionals to capture creative visuals and quickly turn-around property content. Then, there was the Internet.

Alongside 3D tours, aerial photography is the latest advancement in real estate marketing that has agents scrambling for ways to offer it to their clients.

The fastest, easiest way to get started with drone photography is to hire a professional.

Every major market has a licensed person or marketing company with certification for operating an unmanned aircraft system (UAS), the most recent formal legal terminology.

For years, the only form of legal structure the FAA could apply to monitoring drone flight was what already existed: actual pilot licenses.

To tackle the rapid growth of consumer-level drones, they settled in 2016 on “remote pilot certification.”

According to Drone Law Journal, to earn RPC, if a person isn’t already a pilot, one needs to pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test while meeting a number of application requirements, such as a clean drug test and English proficiency, among others.

What real estate agents need to know is that the entity they’re hiring should hold this certification, or they’re risking their client’s time and a good deal of money.

And speaking of money, fly-over shots don’t come cheap.

Those in the market know they’re still part of an emerging market and that sellers in competitive markets will pay to stand out. That and the equipment isn’t pocket change.  

DJI’s top of the line professional level drone, the Inspire 2, retails for slightly under $3,000.

When it comes to equipment, try to seek vendors who have a DJI system, as its products dominate PC Mag’s “Best of 2017” list from almost top to bottom.

The company’s Mavic and Phantom models are also common tools of the trade. In short, ensure your vendor is using professional-level gear.

Most drones have limited flight times, meaning the process will be much more efficient when your listing is camera-ready.

Ask clients to prepare the exterior of the home, and work with them to coordinate the best time to shoot. Ensure the landscapers aren’t on call that day and that the neighbor’s wandering mastiff is on lockdown.

To the best extent possible, schedule a shoot-time that overlaps with slow traffic patterns, maybe mid-morning after everyone’s shuffled off the cul-de-sac to the office.

Drone footage can lose its luster if overdone in a marketing video or website, so use it sparingly, for impact and introductions. It doesn’t take much for a sweeping bird’s-eye shot of a property to make a buyer want to know more about it.

When it comes to the final product, make you sure you own the footage for which you’re paying.

Photographers know the ropes and most aren’t interested in controlling home footage. Still, some may want varying degrees of credit or access to it for portfolio purposes. It doesn’t hurt to be flexible, but maintain control of what you bought.

Also, don’t hire aerial photographers for every home in your inventory. Your budget and audience will start to lose interest.

Use other forms of marketing to draw attention to these showcased listings, like online ads and social media. Drone footage does serve as an excellent way to keep an audience riveted to a home page, but you have to get them there first.

Retargeted display ads and email newsletters are good tactics for pulling people into websites.

Above all else, nothing brings more people to a real estate website than an attractive listing inventory. Start there; and use your marketing tools wisely.

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