Let’s face it. Drones are here to stay. With the FAA slowly loosening the regulatory barriers to entry for drone operators, real estate agents and homeowners now have a new and exciting service available to them to better market their listings. What better way to see a property than from a breathtaking aerial perspective!
As in any service that you are hiring for, there are certain criteria that must be met for you to obtain a quality product. The same is true for drone photography. Don’t just go out and hire the first operator you run across. Do the proper research, select the operator that best fits your needs, and ensure that they meet all proper legal requirements for the drone photography field. Use the tips below to help you find the right operator for your real estate marketing efforts:
- Make Sure the Drone Operator Has the Proper FAA Credentials
I consider this to be by far the most important requirement for a potential drone operator. It has been a long time coming for the FAA to put in place a LEGAL means of entry for drone operators into the national airspace. In order for operators to safely operate in airspace with manned aircraft, the drone operator must either have a Section 333 Exemption, or a Part 107 Remote Pilot certificate. PLEASE make sure that anyone you hire has the proper credentials to do this type of work. Having these credentials means that your operator understands how to SAFELY operate in the same airspace as traditional manned aircraft. This field has to come too far for it to be set back by reckless operators who do not observe proper protocol when operating their drone. All it takes is for a few tragic mishaps for the FAA to shut down all progress that has been made in the field of drones.
- Make Sure the Drone Operator Is Properly Insured
Current commercial drone setups have become extremely reliable, but flyaways and unexpected catastrophes do happen. These small machines are by no means invincible against Mother Nature, and against operator error. That is why you should ensure that your drone operator is insured for at least $1 million in liability insurance. Imagine the potential damage to your livelihood and your reputation if the property you were trying to sell was damaged by a drone operator that you hired. Insurance is not currently a requirement in all states, but you as a realtor should ensure that you protect the assets of your clients.
- References, References, References
There is no better way to find a quality service than to ask those who have already used that service. There is no substitute for word of mouth. If you market primarily luxury properties, reach out to other realtors in your network, and ask them to recommend a drone operator that has worked for them in the past. They will be able to give you some details about the drone operator. What is their pricing package? Do they have a quick turnaround for delivering drone photo and video? How flexible are they when scheduling shoots?
- Ask to See Samples of the Drone Operator’s Work
This one is obvious. If a drone operator already has a website, there is a 99% chance that they will already have sample drone photos and videos on their site. If not, ask them specifically for samples of their work. This will give you an idea of whether or not they can provide the quality of work that you are looking for. Is there work of the quality that will help you sell more homes faster? That is the bottom line of obtaining any aerial photography, right? Remember, drone photography is meant to complement typical interior photos that are usually shown on a property listing. Photos taken from above can provide a new perspective that traditional photography cannot. Some of the best aerial photos showcase the size of property, and its proximity to other nearby amenities. I recently took some photos of my neighbor’s house, and the one that the realtor commented on was the one that provided a great perspective of the size of the backyard. These are the types of photos that your drone operator needs to be able to provide.
- What is the Pricing Structure of the Drone Operator?
The last thing you want is to be surprised by a bill that is much larger than you expected. Before you sign up for drone photography, make sure that you are completely clear on the pricing package. Most drone photographers offer several options depending on whether the realtor wants photos, videos, or both. Decide what you need to market your property, and then decide on the package accordingly. Are you marketing a smaller property, or a vacant lot? In that case, a purely drone photo package may be sufficient. Are you marketing a large tract of land, or a higher-end property? If that is the case, a combination of photo and video may be appropriate for you. The video may be a great complement to still photos to really showcase the size of the property. Also make sure you understand whether or not your pricing includes photo and video editing. You don’t want your drone operator to deliver a disc full of raw photo and video that you have no idea what to do with. Try to hash out as many of these details as possible before actually booking a drone operator.
- How Does Your Drone Operator Handle the Unexpected?
Drones are very susceptible to weather. Drones do not play well with high winds. Make sure that your drone operator is very accommodating of schedule to make sure that your drone photos are obtained in a timely manner. After all, time is money in the real estate business. Also make sure that your drone operator understands that a certain level of quality must be met, otherwise the photos and video must be done again.
- What Kind of Equipment is Your Drone Operator Using?
The brand of drone being used by your operator is not so important, as long as it doesn’t look like they just strapped a camera they had lying around onto a quadcopter they had lying around. Most of the commercial rigs being used right now are of great quality, with fantastic stabilization gimbals that take out all of the jitter of the photos and videos, even when winds are present.