With a constant stream of modern technology hitting the market, real estate agents and other professionals are finding new and innovative ways to take advantage of 21st century technology.

  • Real estate agents can take a note from Brian Persons’s book and find ways to use drones to differentiate.

With a constant stream of modern technology hitting the market, real estate agents and other professionals are finding new and innovative ways to take advantage of 21st century technology.

Whether it’s 360 video being used for virtual home tours, mobile apps that let you take on-the-go continuing education on your phone or new CRM platforms that keep you up-to-date on every single client interaction, there’s no shortage of tools at the industry’s disposal.

One of the hottest trends in the tech field right now is the use of drones or unmanned aerial vehicles.

The everyday uses for drones have been expansive — they’re being utilized for entertainment, surveillance, military programs, and most recently, real estate and home inspections.

I sat down with Brian Persons of Front Range Home Inspections to discuss the benefits and challenges of using drones in the real estate industry, and here’s what I learned.

What makes drones so popular

The possible uses of drones in real estate are endless for the creative mind. More well-known uses for agents and brokers include the ability to take aerial photos of properties for their clients and to survey landscapes and large acreage properties.

Drones can also aid agents in showing their clients a better view of the surrounding neighborhood and where their home lies in relation to local amenities.

In addition to client-facing visuals, drones can also be used for more thorough home inspections as they eliminate the need for inspectors to get on the roof to inspect tiling and other features.

“I had a few ladders slide off the gutter or on the surface below. I’ve had to disclaim roof inspections for safety reasons,” Parsons said.

Drones have been useful for Parsons’s business; they allow him to be safe and offer something his competitors can’t.

“Buyers get a more in-depth inspection, sellers get a unique view for marketing or pre-inspections,” Persons said. “I inspect a lot of rural properties as well and can get a better view of fence lines, grading, ponds, etc.”

As for future applications of this technology?

Persons said to look out for drones with up-and-coming features such as infrared thermal cameras that can sense energy loss and small drones with proximity sensors that can be used for indoor applications.

Learning to pilot a drone

Agents and brokers shouldn’t be intimidated by drones. If you’re interested in incorporating them into their business model, learning to pilot a drone is easier than one might think.

“I’m 53 years old and not part of the video game generation, but the controls look similar, and with some practice in an open space, it doesn’t take long to get the basics down,” Persons said.

He also noted how surprised he was at the quality of the footage he received after his first flight.

Interested individuals should keep in mind that an FAA part 107 registration is currently required to fly a drone for business and commercial use.

The basic requirements an operator must adhere to in order to get licensed can be found here per the Federal Aviation Administration.

Time requirements for getting a drone license

An official license to pilot a drone commercially is fairly easy to obtain with the proper practice and studying.

Persons studied for about a month prior to taking the test (mainly because there weren’t dates available earlier) and practiced as a hobbyist for about a year before deciding to get his license through the Federal Aviation Administration.

Studying for your license is crucial though.

“There’s a lot of information on airspace and airports that I had never known,” Persons said. “I can see the importance of licensing due to all the things going on in the airspace at any given time that most people don’t even know about.”

Rules and regulations

As expected, some rules and restrictions have already been put in place by the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure drones are used responsibly for both business and leisure.

In June 2016, the FAA released Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule (14 C.F.R. Part 107), which details any operational limitations that an operator should be aware of. Some of the most important points are listed below.

You can find an official summarized version of the rules by the FFA here:

  • All unmanned aircrafts must weigh less than 55 pounds.
  • Aircrafts must remain within eye shot of the operator the entire time they’re in use.
  • Unmanned aircrafts can only be operated during daytime hours, or during “civil twilight” (30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset).
  • Drone speeds cannot exceed 100 mph.
  • Aircrafts can not reach heights more than 400 feet above ground level.
  • A person shouldn’t operate an unmanned aircraft if he or she has any physical or mental conditions that prevent him or her from doing so safely.
  • Aircrafts should not be used to transport hazardous materials.
  • There are several no-fly zones like sports stadiums and airports that an operator should be aware of. You can download the FAA’s app to stay updated in realtime about flying restrictions.

The release of these rules by the FAA actually lifted some of the previously existing hurdles real estate agents had to face, like the need for waivers.

Now agents can easily take advantage of this new way to get ahead of the competition and add even more value for their clients.

Gregg Klar is a Realtor with Keller Williams Realty in Austin. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

Email Gregg Klar

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