By Adina Marcut
Many industries, businesses and individuals are investing in Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), more commonly known as drones, for their day-to-day operations—and the real estate industry is starting to get on board as well. Real estate players are finding a variety of uses for the technology, whether it be for marketing purposes, construction monitoring or inspections, as a way to improve their business and operations.
For those in the real estate field that may be hesitant about using drone technology, there are various options that allow users to dip their toes in the water, before investing in professional-level drones. Prices ranges for the devices vary widely, but more affordable options have become available as they grow in popularity. According to Money, sales of drones below $500 have grown 134 percent in the past year, while the above $500 segment has grown 82 percent. However, drones priced under $200 accounted for three-fourths of all drone units sold in the 12-month period ending in April 2017, according to The NRD Group Analyst Ben Arnold, quoted in the Money article.
As online listings often generate most of the leads on prospective buyers, marketing a property has become a challenge for developers and managers looking to make their property stand out. Pictures and videos from the ground level are commonplace, so drones are a great way to get a different perspective of a property.
While social media is a popular real estate marketing tool today, drone technology could have an even more profound impact, as it can produce dramatic, sweeping shots of landscapes, ocean and mountain vistas, as well as seamless fly-arounds of property exteriors. Future renters or buyers can also have a better view of the outdoor amenities that the property has to offer and of the surrounding area in a way that you could never really do before.
Agents could also leverage drone technology to show interested renters and buyers where a community is located, if it’s in proximity to the beach or other natural settings. This is a likely to be a more cost-effective strategy than paying to have a helicopter capture aerial photo and video. Not to mention helicopters can’t get as close to the properties as drones. For the inside of the community, agents could use drones to provide a smoother and more realistic property tour.
In addition to marketing, developers can use drones for site management and logistics for construction projects. For example, a company developing an athletic stadium could use drone photos and videos to help determine the logistics of installing thousands of seats. According to JLL, Sachse Construction, a Detroit-based company, has already used drones in the construction of a Nike store and multiple apartment projects, including The Scott at Brush Park. Not only does this assist the company, but it also keeps the larger community updated about the project’s progress.
While many in the real estate industry are enthusiastic about the potential possibilities drones provide, the largest hurdle to mass adoption will likely be regulatory road blocks. The Federal Aviation Administration issued a rule effective Aug. 29, 2016 that makes it easier for businesses to use UAS up to 55 lbs., but any further changes and the impact they will have on the real estate industry remain to be seen.