• Drone images aren't necessary for all homes
  • You must make sure a drone photographer is experienced and licensed
  • Determine the fine print of agreements with drone photography

“I grew up with phonebooks on the pilot seat flying copilot with my grandfather,” said Brandon Vos, marketing director for Re/Max Inner Loop in Houston and owner of Studio Vos.

“I tell people I was flying before I was driving.”

Vos, 37, grew up in Katy, but now resides in Richmond with his wife and three kids. His grandfather, with whom he used to copilot a Cessna 172, is the late Frank DeCicco, founder of Re/Max Texas.

Vos began piloting a drone a few years back — more of a personal interest piggybacking on his years studying art and photography at Texas Tech — and has been able to fuse it with real estate marketing.

Drones are all the rage, but should you be using them? Here are a few things to consider:

  • Do you even need to hire for aerial video/photography?
  • What does their portfolio look like, and will these images help you sell?
  • Have they received their Section 333 FAA exemption and is their drone registered?
  • Where will your clients be seeing the listing?
  • Are you licensing the images or buying them outright?

Does drone photography make sense?

Say your listing is in a subdivision with no landmarks around — what is there to showcase from the sky? This could potentially hurt your listing.

In these rare cases, Vos recommends “pole photography,” which is basically a camera attached to something like a painter’s pole for elevated angles. He said that a GoPro affixed to the top with a simple camera attachment available on Amazon can save you a lot of time and money.

Keep in mind, though, that aerial photography can show proximity to the amenities in communities, such as lakes, pools, and parks.

“One of the biggest mistakes that I see Realtors making with real estate photography in general, including drones, is getting somebody that has the equipment, but doesn’t really know how to use it,” he says.

With high-quality cameras now coming standard on phones, everyone can take a picture.

The difference is when those photos are taken into post-production and perfected. You are doing your listing a disservice if there is lens distortion, or if the images do not showcase the beautiful contrasts of light in your listing.

With drone technology advancing faster than most people can even keep up with it, you might have heard words like “4K video” being thrown around. This is overkill.

Most, if not all, listing services don’t allow for the large file sizes of 4K video and high-resolution photography. Houston MLS doesn’t allow for file sizes larger than six megabytes, which is about one-fifth the file size of a raw, high-resolution photo.

Understand if you will have full rights to the images

The “handshake agreement” is the verbal understanding that the images/video will only be used for the duration of the listing.

This is where you need to be careful, because should something happen later on down the road and you use the images again for any type of financial gain, the photographer has the rights to compensation if he/she maintains the copyright for the images.

Handshakes are old-fashioned, and a firm licensing contract can save you in the long run.

Make sure the drone is registered

The FAA requires that all drones be registered, and in order to shoot for a commercial client, the pilot needs a waiver (Section 333 FAA exemption) from the FAA to do so.

If your pilot has not registered the drone, or has not filed the application for the waiver and permits, then there is a good chance he/she is not properly trained in the safety measures. If there is a park nearby filled with children, you definitely don’t want to risk their lives and safety.

How can you maximize your return?

Aerial photography creates a buzz around your property for two reasons; it is inherent that we as humans want what we cannot have; and images can become social media conversation pieces even for people not currently in the market for home-buying.

By generating a buzz, you may be able to get higher initial offer.

Email Britt Chester

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