Los Altos Real Estate Blog


3 Reasons Every Broker Should Be Doing Drone Video For Listings

Brokers, you should be doing drone videos!

There has been a lot of talk about drone video lately and how it's the next big thing in real estate marketing.  While the poorly informed folks are busy claiming FAA legal issues (perfectly OK to fly under 400 feet, look it up) the rest of us are determining how to put this new gimmick to use for clients.  This is all about marketing, not just the video.  When done right, drone video gives a unique perspective on a property and the surrounding neighborhood.

Until drones came along, taking photos and video of homes from 200 feet in the air has been expensive and sometimes impossible to achieve.  The advent of drones and their HD cameras (GoPro and others) make it possible to take high-resolution pictures and video nearly anywhere.  Concerns over cost seem based on a lack of understanding of both the hardware and the implementation.  This is a commodity everyone needs.


Drones Are Not Expensive

One of the most popular drones in the market is the Parrot Ar Drone.  It's priced at a whopping $300 for the standard model with built-in HD camera.  Even the most budget-strapped broker should be able to afford that!  There are several other options as well including the DJI Phantom for under $500 to the Turbo Ace priced near $1200.  There are pros and cons to them all but the point is that nearly all the most common drones support built-in or industry-standard cameras to take stills and video of homes and neighborhoods.


Drones Do Not Need Pilots

Can you fly a toy plane?  Then you can fly a drone.  Some of them have software so easy to use you can program the flight plan and photo/video in a few minutes.  This is not like flying a 747 out of LAX.  All you've got to do is learn the basic controls and you're off and running in a matter of minutes.  Some of the drones come fully assembled which makes it even easier.  Just charge the batteries and you can start taking video right away.


Drone Video Is Special...For Now

There are plenty of agents and brokers using drones for video at the moment and it's still special.  Forget marketing it as "drone video" if you don't like the term.  Tell you clients you'll provide aerial video for all listings and they'll understand.  it'll also make a nice impression.  If you're trying to stand out from the crowd, this is a good way to do it. 

When you average the cost of the equipment and the time involved with post-production of the video and pictures, I'd estimate the cost per listing to be about the same as standard photography.  As a differentiator in the current market it has much more value.  So, while the opportunity exists why not jump into the frey, get a drone, and start doing video.  Your agents will love you for it!

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 Bryan Robertson, CEO | T: 650.799.9951 | Email: bryan@catarra-re.com | Website: http://www.BryanRobertsonHomes.com |CA BRE# 01191946 | Catarra Real Estate, Inc  | 171 Main St #220 | Los Altos, CA 94022



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Comment balloon 34 commentsBryan Robertson • January 09 2014 07:29AM


Interesting topic Bryan. It will be cutting edge whoever starts this new idea and is successful with it.

Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) about 5 years ago
I have been thinking about this a lot since the recent snow when I saw the photos my neighbor captured.
Posted by Cheryl Ritchie, Southern Maryland 301-980-7566 (RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com) about 5 years ago

Gary - My brokerage will be doing an announcement about drone video by the end of January.  It's definitely something to have.

Cheryl - You should check out the new micro drones - inexpensive and easy to implement as an individual agent.

Posted by Bryan Robertson, Broker, Author, Speaker (Intero Real Estate) about 5 years ago

I'd love to give one a try before I buy.  Seems like it would actually be fun! 

Posted by Marc McMaster, Putting my clients before myself (RE/MAX Centre Realty) about 5 years ago

Bryan, this is very interesting marketing, and have not heard of this being done in Denver so far, but should check it out!   We do have professionals that do aerial photography.

Posted by Joan Cox, Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time (House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373) about 5 years ago

Drones should quickly become standard equipment for real estate professionals. Thanks for sharing your advice.

Posted by Roy Kelley (Realty Group Referrals) about 5 years ago

Bryan, I thought of using drone video and photos last year when I sequentially listed 3 townhouses perched on a bluff in Pacifica overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Had I known about them with the first listing, I would have had some great, dramatic footage to use when others came along.

Next time I'll do it!

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) about 5 years ago

I too would like the try before I buy experience.  Not sure if this is how I should spend my time or find a reasonably priced professional to do it for me.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) about 5 years ago

Thanks for sharing. This is very informative.

Posted by Christine Farkas, Awesome Customer Service Experience (Keller Williams Western Realty) about 5 years ago

Interesting Bryan. I would be really curious to see how these videos are put into working marketing for "everyday" listings. I can see how an expansive home on a spacious plot of land would greatly benefit from the perspective of an aerial shot, however, I cannot seem to wrap my marketing brain around the thought of using this technology for a normal, "everyday" home that is bordered by 2 homes and has a standard back yard. We are implementing the inside video slideshows for our listings and finding that so many clients are thrilled with the "advancement" of that idea - I don't know that I see aerial videos being a huge hit yet? BUT ... since you are standing behind them, I know that we need to keep digging and figure out how to use these in our marketplace. WHEW that was a long comment! Happy Thursday!

Posted by Erin Bates (CMG Financial and Expansion Marketing Services) about 5 years ago

Very well written post on drones.  I think they will be one of the best new technologies to be adopted this year.   As with other photography, the quality of the photography and videos will determine how useful the aerial shots are. 

I'm leaning towards the DJ Phantom 1.1 with the GoPro camera myself. 

I haven't researched the Parot AR Drone.  For $300, it might be a great system to learn on.  Thanks for the suggestion.     



Posted by Sondra Meyer:, See It. Experience It. Live It. (Star View Real Estate ) about 5 years ago

Interesting, very informative. Thanks for sharing.

Have a Big day,


Posted by Randy Shamburger, FHA, VA, USDA and Conventional Mortgage Expert (Movement Mortgage) about 5 years ago

I had heard about the legal issues.  I am glad to hear it is not an issue if done right.

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) about 5 years ago

Bryan I'm jazzed as one of out title guys was talking to me about his new drone for taking pictures of listings - love love love the idea! And glad he's willing to do so!

Posted by Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS 602-380-4886, Arizona's Top Banana! (Phoenix Property Shoppe) about 5 years ago

Bryan.  What a world!  I love Anna's idea of having the title company provide this as an added benefit.  I dont think it would conflict with any RESPA rules and would give that title company an edge.  Either way - its a fun new idea.

Posted by Belinda Spillman, Colorado Living! (Aspen Lane Real Estate Colorful Colorado) about 5 years ago

Bryan, What am I missing here?  I just don't get the value in an aerial view.  I know it is unique and different ... i just don't see how it will help sell a home, or sell it for more.

As for RESPA ... and the title company, if their is value and benefit to the agent, it is a violation.

Posted by Kathleen Daniels, San Jose Homes for Sale-Probate & Trust Specialist (KD Realty - 408.972.1822) about 5 years ago

Such food for thought!  Certainly the drone is a 'now' technology.  I could see it for a large estate in Woodside or Atherton, or for a San Carlos or Belmont property with killer views.  But for Redwood City where the lots are smaller, I'm not sure I would use it.  I think having the ability to use a drone is good to have in a back pocket, but I would also keep a provider who can do a floor plan for a home there, too.  As usual, Bryan, a thought-provoking post!

Posted by Marge Draper, REALTOR, Keller Williams Realty, Menlo Park CA (Keller Williams Realty Palo Alto) about 5 years ago

Marge - I see drone video and being a good way to showcase the neighborhood in areas where the homes are close together.  A short 10-15 second clip could show a relationship between the house, neighbors, parks, roads, shopping, etc.

Kathleen - Another blogger mentioned using drones inside the house to do a first-person walk-through in a matter of minutes.  That would be one good use and much lower cost than using dollys.

Belinda - I don't think our title companies would do it.  Too much RESPA concern.

Anna - That's cool your local title guy is willing to do that.  Our local title folks won't offer anything out of concerns with RESPA.

Gene - Yeah, there is a misconception of the use but a broker can use a drone and fly under 400 feet with no problem.

Posted by Bryan Robertson, Broker, Author, Speaker (Intero Real Estate) about 5 years ago

Bryan, I had not even heard of Drone videos. What a great idea.

Posted by Connie Harvey, Realtor - Nashville TN Real Estate (Pilkerton Realtors) about 5 years ago

I love the idea and have used a pilot for aerial photos. So much faster/easier/cheaper. Drone you home with Margaret Rome...nah!  Don't like the word but do like the ability to get these photos at the time of a listing.

Posted by Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland, Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome ( HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400) about 5 years ago

Bryan, my husband keeps trying to convince me to buy one-I think he just wants an excuse to use it!

Posted by Michelle Carr-Crowe Just Call 408-252-8900 Top 1%!, Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years (Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty) about 5 years ago

I think it's very cool technology and we are seeiing more and more. My photographer is starting to use it as well. Not there myself but it in the plans.

Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (Solutions Real Estate ) almost 5 years ago

Bryan, thank you for this information.  I too was misinformed until now!  This drone model is not much more than many digital cameras and should pay for themselves quickly.

Posted by Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES, Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living (Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch!) almost 5 years ago

Bryan, an excellent and thought-provoking post. I'd recommend doing a lot of homework before buying though. Prices appear to be coming down, plus new and better features are being rolled out in anticipation of the release of FAA approval regs.

Posted by Eric Kodner, CRS, Madeline Island Realty, LaPointe, WI 54850 - (Madeline Island Realty) almost 5 years ago

I like the idea in order to capture an arial photo, as well as perhaps a video of the neighborhood. Plus, I think my son would really enjoy flying it around for me.

Posted by Troy Erickson Realtor, Your Chandler, Ahwatukee, and East Valley Realtor (Good Company Real Estate www.ChandlerRealEstate.weebly.com) almost 5 years ago

Wow Bryan - sorry you didn't get to talk about this on the hangout yesterday! Cool stuff!!

Posted by Lori Cain, Midtown Tulsa Real Estate Top Producer (eXp Realty) almost 5 years ago

I really wanted to start doing ariel pictures of the front of the house for listings especially higher end once. My fear is the current view from the government on that, what they say is you can't use pictures of videos from dones for "commerical purposes" it is kind of up in the air, but we do use it to market the property.

Just a risk to take I guess until we find out one way or the other. The guy taking video of spring training in AZ got a 10,000 dollar fine from the FAA for recording from a drone, even though some of the baseballs go higher then the drone did.

Posted by Stefan Winter, Owner - Winter Group & Real Estate Web Tech (Real Estate in IL & NV | Owner of Real Estate Web Tech | Daily Vlogger) almost 5 years ago

Wow, what's next! I do agree though, shooting a drone video to catch the feel of the neigbhorhhod would be something that potential buyers from out of the area would appreciate. Thanks for your thought-stimulating post.

Posted by Eva B. Liland with Century 21 Doug Anderson, Glad to be of Service (Century 21 Doug Anderson) almost 5 years ago

The recent court ruling against the FAA was fairly clear, there is no tangible difference between a drone and a normal remote-controlled plane.  Therefore, the FAA is unable to enforce any special rules against them.  That means flying a drone under 400 feet for commercial purposes is perfectly legal.

I'm sure we'll get clarification on this issue as time moves on.  Congress has mandated the FAA come up with rules and now the courts have weighed in.  While they figure out the details, we're free to fly!

Posted by Bryan Robertson, Broker, Author, Speaker (Intero Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

It does seem like a great way to seperate yourself from the competition.

Posted by Brian Clinger, Brian Clinger ABR, GRI, CRS, SRES (Coldwell Banker AJS Schmidt) almost 5 years ago

I cant wait to buy a drone!  I know it's no longer illegal to shoot video commercially using a drone (for now).  Surely, this separates the realtor using drone tech from the competition.  Thanks for posting!

Posted by Nelson Carrillo, South San Diego, CA Homes For Sale (McMillin Realty - Phone: (619) 940-6560) almost 5 years ago

Your comment about "Special, for now" is so true. We are on the front of this wave, but in 5 years, it will be the norm to see these shots. Wise agents who want to make a splash are on the front end of this tech! Thanks for the post, Bryan!

Posted by Jay O'Brien, Kansas City : Social Media Guy (RE/MAX Revolution) over 4 years ago

My team is starting with drone technology shortly.

Having a drone demo next week.

It's here and now, amazing technology!

Posted by Pete Xavier, Outstanding Agent Referrals-Nationwide (Investments to Luxury) over 4 years ago

Bryan, I agree with all 3 of your reasons why we should be utilizing drone video even though the FAA isn't on board with us using them.

Posted by Sam Miller, Knox County Ohio Real Estate Specialist (RE/MAX Stars Realty) over 4 years ago

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