DroneBase is using drone technology to survey building sites, produce roof damage reports, inspect real estate disaster zones and a number of uses beyond marketing.

Have suggestions for products that you’d like to see reviewed by our real estate technology expert? Email Craig Rowe.

DroneBase started as a hub for hiring Federal Aviation Administration-certified drone pilots to make your listings look good.

It still does that — and now on a 50-state level — but DroneBase has also moved into an array of real estate-related services, including roof repair analysis, natural disaster surveys, insurance claim research, commercial real estate site selection and even wind turbine inspections.

DroneBase founder Dan Burton

Along the way, the company has been compiling a trove of property data, a result of a very clever business plan that ensures it owns the data every pilot collects as they accept a “mission” on the company’s app.

“We have a 200-terabyte data library,” said founder Dan Burton. “The images we collect are quite data-rich, especially when you begin to stitch them together.”

In short, Burton wants the real estate industry to know that your drone pilot can do a lot more for you than cruise over the rooftop of your next listing.

Insights Roof Reports, for example, is a dedicated service to surveying the condition of residential and commercial property roofs.

Because of a recent partnership with FLIR, a company that manufacturers thermal imaging hardware and software (yes, like the cool night-vision stuff in sci-fi films), DroneBase pilots are able to capture sophisticated property heat maps that can be used for energy audits, moisture detection and unseen insulation weaknesses.

Roof Reports are extensive multipage documents and are ideal for large luxury homes with extensive or ornate rooflines.

DroneBase will distribute its FLIR sensors to pilots assigned to projects requiring them.

(FLIR makes smartphone-compatible, night-vision thermal camera attachments.)

As the industry becomes more comfortable conducting more aspects of the business at arm’s length, every bit of data that can be collected on a listing will support the buyer’s decision.

“We decided it was time to give our customers more value from drone services,” Burton said in a phone call.

Burton founded the company after stints in Washington as a Special Projects Assistant in the U.S. Senate and working for Goldman Sachs’ Technology, Media and Telecom Group. He served his country as a Marine infantry officer in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2007-2011, and he has an MBA from Harvard.

In summary, Burton is leveraging drone technology as an asset manager, well beyond its default role as a marketing tool.

Agents who are also certified pilots will love DroneBase’s mobile apps.

Available for both major operating systems, the apps have different functionality on each platform. For iPhone, the Pilot app can handle mission assignments, facilitate payment, coordinate training, and it even has a full DJI control center integration for flying directly from your phone.

The Android Mission app also assigns projects, manages flight-related tasks, tracks earnings and helps oversee equipment lists and your public profile.

DroneBase has pushed into residential property management as well, working with a number of institutional landlords for inspections, maintenance issues, land surveys and marketing.

Burton said his nationwide pilot network is averaging a 99 percent on-time mission completion rate. And because of the coronavirus downturn, as of this writing, March 2020 is on track to be DroneBase’s best month on record.

“We’re able to help keep business running,” Burton said.

Back in 2016, Keller Williams inked a partnership with DroneBase that would discount services $200 for KW agents.

Drones might not be able to help you nurture leads or post to social media, but they are unquestionably valuable tools of the trade, and they’re growing even more so as GIS (geographic information systems) data is finding its way into marketing programs and lead analysis systems. Solutions like TopHap and myPlanit are powerful examples of how location information can empower business.

Drones absolutely fall into the segment of terrestrial real estate marketing, and like other forms of visual real estate data, should see a rapid uptick in use come the post-COVID-19 market.

Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe

Craig C. Rowe started in commercial real estate at the dawn of the dot-com boom, helping an array of commercial real estate companies fortify their online presence and analyze internal software decisions. He now helps agents with technology decisions and marketing through reviewing software and tech for Inman. He lives near Lake Tahoe in the northern Sierra Nevada of California.

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