MarketingRegulations

10 tips before entering the drone zone

When the FAA changes its regulations, here's what you'll need to know
  • On August 29, 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration officially implements new, more relaxed regulations for how Realtors and other marketers use drones.
  • Know your strategy and budget for using drones, and prepare for a learning curve.
  • Learn the rules, follow them -- and buy some insurance for your new toy.
  • To be effective, you'll also need to learn about video editing and video distribution.

A new real estate marketing era takes off on August 29, 2016, when the Federal Aviation Administration officially implements new, more relaxed regulations for how Realtors and other marketers use drones, or remote-controlled unmanned aircraft systems.

Drones offer real estate professionals myriad ways to showcase their listings from a new and inexpensive perspective. Drone videos bring an element of entertainment into the homebuying process and make it easier for buyers to fall in love with a property. Marketing real estate with aerial video and photographs conveys not just a listing, but also a lifestyle by capturing distinct locations such as mountainsides, lake-, ocean- and river fronts, golf courses or homes near parks, train depots or quaint shopping districts.

Since the new FAA rules may prompt real estate agents to consider buying a drone, here are 10 tips for before you enter the drone zone.

1. Know your strategy. Understand the role drones will play in your marketing efforts and how to use them effectively. Incorporating drones into your marketing just because you can may not be the best formula for success.

2. While today’s requirements include a lower point of entry, (no need to get a $10,000 pilot’s license); an FAA certificate is required to verify your aeronautics knowledge ($300 course fee).

3. Learn the rules, such as:

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  • If flying within five miles of an FAA control tower, operators must notify the tower about a drone in flight (download the FAA app, “Know Before You Fly” for tower locations and notifications).
  • Know air space restrictions. For example, drones are not allowed near all major airports.
  • The drone must be within the operator’s line of sight.

4. Follow local regulations. Learn which state and government entities are crafting drone rules, and get on their email lists.

5. Buy insurance. The FAA doesn’t require it, but brokerages need the added liability protection in case of accidents.

6. Prepare for a learning curve. Crashes are common, even for experienced drone pilots (See tip No. 5!).

Allow about a year behind the wheel before that drone floats like a butterfly above your listings. Until then, drone video may appear unsteady or feel like a jerky rollercoaster ride.

7. Know your budget. Commercial drones, on average, cost about 10 times more ($3,000) than what hobbyists use ($300).

8. Learn to use video editing software to produce a beautiful finished product.

9. Be knowledgeable and prepared for video distribution. You’ll be uploading and managing your clients’ listing videos so they’re live on all streaming sites, such as YouTube and Vimeo, and removed once a home is sold.

10. Consider the time and upfront costs required. Hiring a professional pilot/photographer with the creative eye and years of experience may be a better option for capturing stunning aerial views of distinctive listings.

Brian Balduf is CEO and co-founder of VHT Studios, the nation’s largest real estate photography, video and multimedia company. 

Email Brian Balduf