Should I Hire a Drone Photography Company?

If you’re a professional Realtor and serious about your business, you’re probably familiar with the benefits of drone photography. Not only is drone photography unique and powerful enough to set your listings apart from your competition, it’s also a practical way to showcase the unique features of your listings. 

Real estate drone photography is popular – but, not all Realtors have jumped on board. One question being asked and causing the delay is “what is the true cost versus the value of hiring a drone photography company?”. To put it another way, what’s the return-on-investment of using a drone photography company to sell properties, and is this technology a tactic that can be added to an existing real estate marketing strategy? 

Here’s what you need to know. 

Should I Invest in a Drone Photography Company? 

Short answer: absolutely yes. If you specialize in selling luxury real estate, and you invest in a photographer or photography company that doesn’t specialize in luxury real estate, you’re going to wind up with low-quality photos that don’t showcase the unique value of the property you are trying to sell.

Similarly, investing in a reputable real estate marketing company with services that include drone photography would be the ideal choice. A real estate marketing company can assist in creating a custom and strategic marketing plan to incorporate drone photography into your existing marketing objectives. Hiring an experienced real estate photographer who not only has an in-depth level of experience in shooting properties but can also operate drone equipment, has a number of drone flight hours on the books, can help with your marketing strategy, and is licensed by the FAA and has appropriate insurance – is the road to least risk. 

When images are finalized, you want to be able to use them in your print and online marketing, on your website, and in your real estate portfolio. A real estate marketing company can edit your video or images, hence projecting the professionalism you and your customer’s demand. 

The Value of Hiring a Professional Drone Photography Company

Real estate is one industry where the value of high-quality photography cannot be underestimated. This also can be said of drone photography. Professional and quality drone photography helps listings stand out and ensures they don’t get lost in the fray. 

FAA Certification

Professional drone photographers have extensive, FAA-approved training that requires them to learn aviation charts and understand a drone’s flight paths with larger aircraft, both manned and unmanned. 

While this may seem trivial if you’re hiring a photography company to shoot a 5-acre plot, the importance of this certification cannot be underestimated. Not only will a non-FAA certified pilot not understand the rules of airspace, but working with one puts you at a distinct risk of being fined by the FAA itself. 

At the time of this writing, the FAA reserves the right to impose fines of up to $27,500 for civil penalties and up to $250,000.

FAA Flight Restrictions

The following FAA drone guidelines are subject to change but are current as of publication of this article: 

  • Drones must maintain and not be flown within five miles of an airplane terminal.
  • Unless you have written consent forms from people you fly over – you can’t fly over people. Common sense should dictate this law. 
  • If you are using your drone for commercial purposes you cannot exceed the 400 ft maximum altitude established by the FAA. 
  • Don’t lose site! Your drone must be within eye-shot at all times.

Image Quality

In the world of aerial photography, skills, expertise, quality and state-of-the-art camera equipment are essential. Unless you’re investing in someone who has these important credentials, you’re risking quality above your most important asset – your clients. 

Buyer Reception

Today, 44% of homebuyers use real estate online videos to comparison shop between homes they’re interested in, and 38% report using videos to learn about specific features of a house, such as the property or landscaping. Because of this, the MLS reports that property listings that include aerial images are 68% more likely to sell than properties with no aerial pictures. 

By far, the most significant benefit of aerial drone photography is buyer reception. Not only does investing in drone photography provide valuable content you can weave into your marketing plans such as with social media, but it helps realtors move through the sales-cycle faster and fetch higher prices for their properties. 

The Ultimate Value of Drone Photography

While there’s no hard-and-fast rule for how much you’ll pay for drone photography packages, we recommend basing your estimates on this formula:

For every $100k of the listing, multiply the price by $100

This means that, for a $450k home, you’d pay about $450 for a standard aerial photography package from a professional drone operator.  This is a minimal investment to make. When you consider the benefits you’ll reap from that investment, it’s also clear it’s a wise one to make. In the modern real estate environment, great listing content spells the difference between a quick sale and another boring MLS that fades into the noise. 

If you’ve ever doubted whether investing in drone photography is worth it or not, you can put those doubts to rest. Now is an excellent time to invest in professional drone photography, and to trust that the value far outweighs the cost. 

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