Drones: The Future of Marketing in Real Estate?

by Rachel Mazanec

In the ever-competitive real estate industry, agents are anxious to incorporate drone photography as a marketing tool used to provide buyers with the best possible view of a property.

Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) used exclusively for law enforcement, national security and scientific purposes. Unfortunately for the real estate industry, commercial use of drones requires a certificate of airworthiness from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which are rarely warranted and only awarded on a case-by-case basis.

Considering the hefty cost of renting helicopters or climb cranes to capture a birds-eye view of a property, it is not surprising that the real estate industry is interested in using drone technology to enhance listings. In an industry based heavily on the appearance of a product to prompt sales, agents want to provide clients with visuals using innovative technology. Carlos Cristerna, an associate principal and the director of visualization at Neoscape, an agency that focuses on the real estate market, told CityLab.com that drones are “the thing” in real estate today.

“Every decade or every year or every day, there’s something new that people want look at, that everyone wants to do,” says Cristerna. “It seems like these days, drones are the thing.”

New Regulations for Commercial Use of Drones

Fortunately for Realtor’s, an act known as the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 called on the FAA to determine clear-cut regulations for commercial use of drones no later than Sept. 30, 2015. While Realtors wait for regulations to be implemented, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has created a field guide to help Realtors understand the legal status of using drones and educate them on the potential use of drones in the real estate industry.

NAR, who sent a letter to the FAA concerning the use of drones in the real estate industry, spoke with Housing Wire and commented on the responsible use of drone technology and the need for regulations to preserve safety and privacy.

“Use of UAV technology by the real estate industry is simple compared to other applications such as land surveying or law enforcement,” said NAR. “The use of UAV technology would be limited in scope to the property itself. Properly written regulation would permit the use of UAV technology within the real estate industry, while maintaining safety in the NAS and privacy of citizens.”

Drone Technology to Replace Manual Labor

In addition to all the hype centered around using drones as a marketing tool, the industry is also looking to replace the manual labor needed to build properties with drone technology. While drones are most commonly known for their use in the U.S. military, a firm of architects in Switzerland created the first architectural installation called ‘Flight Assembled Architecture’ design by Gramazio & Kohler and a visionary robotic system by Raffaello D’Andrea using drones.

Should the use of drones for assembling architecture continue, only a tender is needed to slap on the mortar, and a mason to be in charge of the drones. Despite the variety of opportunities in the real estate industry that drones offer, many feel that the use of drones will eliminate jobs, leaving those who previous provided manual labor unemployed.

The FAA has authorized tests around the country to help decide what restrictions need to be set in place to ensure safe operation and protect national security, including the privacy of people. The administration is expected to issue rules on the commercial use of drones next year.

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