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flying drone with camera on the skyFor those old enough to remember E.T.,  or for those introduced to the loveable alien by their parents, there’s a scene where the little Extra Terrestrial muppet lifts his finger and says “home,” as objects fly around the room.

E.T. wasn’t a pioneer of home marketing, but with the first REALTOR® receiving FAA approval to fly a drone for real estate videography, he wasn’t far from predicting a world of flying machines and a place we all call home.

Drone technology isn’t new by any means, and a trip to the local mall or perusal of most electronic web catalogs will uncover at least half a dozen drone models for sale, often at less than $100, including built in cameras, with higher end drones allowing for more sophisticated camera mountings, including the popular sports action camera, GoPro.

With the number of FAA hoops to jump through before receiving permission to use drones for commercial purposes however, agents may be left wondering whether this technology is a viable option.

Droning in Paperwork
Although the FAA approval is a landmark decision for real estate marketing, the result does not mean drones will become commonplace immediately. The 26-page FAA exemption docket is a wordy, caveat-laden document that is steeped in government terminology, confusing references to standard aviation legislation, and obtuse references to video games…. Ahem, “computerized simulated flights.”

So far, out of the 214 commercial entities that applied for an exemption, a mere 12 were granted. One of the larger issues addressed by the FAA is one regarding pilot license requirements for drone operation. According to the current restrictions, those operating drones for commercial purposes must hold a private pilot’s license.

There’s No Place Like Drone
In considering the Arizona real estate petition that was granted, the FAA ruling was very specific, noting that only a particular drone type could be used, and the exemption would expire in January 2017. However, this ruling has set a precedent for other real estate pros or off-shift pilots who plan to petition the FAA for similar exemptions.

For those willing to read the entire exemption docket, there are still many stipulations that must be followed, causing drone operation to be more difficult than expected. Even still, for real estate pros looking to augment listings with cool aerial videos at an affordable cost, getting similar exemptions, filing flight plans, and obtaining certification for flight readiness may be worth it.

In the real estate industry, there are a number of opportunities for using drone technology including:

  1. Designating an on-staff ‘pilot’ ready to assist in filminglisting videos
  2. Portals offering home video services as part of broker/agent marketing support
  3. Home Inspectors validating roofs, chimneys, gutters and exterior fixtures as part of property assessment
  4. Real time ‘flybys’ of properties for remote buyers and prospects
  5. Neighborhood/area video presentations shown as part of home tours/open houses to inspire and inform buyers

For Sale by Droner
The FAA in considering the Unmanned Aircraft System petition made one thing very clear… “that a grant of exemption is in the public interest.” Ultimately, as technology expands its role in the home buying and selling process, it’s the consumer who stands to win the most with more information, better communication, richer data, readily available research tools, and an easier means of making decisions. Agents and brokers who understand, embrace, and commit to newer technology solutions will also be on the winning side.

Drones are just one step towards a more technology-centric approach to home marketing, offering an easier, cheaper and more practical way of documenting home exteriors.

Until drone technology becomes more easily accessible, there are still plenty of technology innovations available to support agent success. The suite of marketing tools puts technology such as video, responsive websites and lead nurturing into the hands of real estate pros, simply and easily, all without the need for a pilot’s license. Although we can’t promise you a high flying drone in the next few months, we can promise high flying marketing solutions that require little training and avoid a bumpy landing!

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