For most apartments or homes, drone photography is an extravagance. However, it does hold very real appeal to anyone attempting to sell industrial properties, large tracts of land, large estates, or especially photogenic properties. If, as believed, the FAA issues updated commercial requirements for drones in 2016, expect the category to skyrocket.
—Fast Company, February 27, 2016
It’s true that the commercial drone market in the U.S. is still catching up to that in many other countries. But some industries, such as commercial and industrial real estate, have already been transformed.
Last week, Fast Company published an article about how drones are changing the way buyers shop for large-scale real estate.
“Drone technology offers a tremendous opportunity for the business of real estate and the broader economy,” said Tom Salomone, president of the National Association of Realtors. “That’s why NAR continues to support the integration of drones into the National Airspace and a regulatory landscape that allows for the responsible commercial use of drones.”
Commercial Drones Have Revolutionized Real Estate Photography
Still photography does a great job showing off a sunny kitchen or a cozy bedroom, but it isn’t great at capturing large tracts of warehouses. In the past, real estate agents had just one good option for showing large-scale industrial and commercial properties: helicopters. But they’re so expensive to rent and operate that they’re not cost effective in most cases.
Compared to helicopters, drones are cheap to own and to operate. They can also fly much closer to the property, and even indoors, so the quality of the images and the level of detail they provide is much better.
Skyward client AirVu, based in the Cayman Islands, was one of the first companies in the Caribbean to use drones for commercial photography.
“We needed to establish ourselves as a drone business, so we did photography for real estate,” Adam Cockerill, AirVu’s founder, told Fast Company. “Initially, it was a lot of residential properties, and we were hired by brokers and some homeowners. There are some beautiful beachfront properties that benefit from aerial views.”
Since then, AirVu has expanded to using drones for prison patrols, among other applications. For logistics, AirVu uses Skyward’s cloud-based software for managing flight logistics, including planning and logging flights.
Tip: Hire Professional Drone Operators
The article hypothesizes that many real estate agents in the U.S. are currently flying without a 333 Exemption from the FAA: “Because of the safety issues around using drones and the risk of unqualified pilots causing property damage or worse, it’s crucial for [real estate agents] or property owners to be careful and err on the side of caution when doing aerial photography.”
Fortunately, there’s a better option.
Real estate agents should hire qualified, insured drone pilots to conduct their flights. Commercial drone pilots know their obligations as aviators in ways that amateurs may not. Hiring a pro lowers the risk for damage and it ensures the high level of professionalism that clients expect when it comes to big-ticket items such as industrial and luxury real estate.
At Skyward, we help commercial drone pilots operate efficiently, fly safely with a validate airspace map, obtain insurance, and stay within the law.