A local Realtor sees advantages in aerial photography via drones as a tool to market some properties.
When it comes to selling real estate, we are all too familiar with the mantra that it's all about location.
That still may hold true. But when it comes to selling, the use of technology plays a major role in attracting buyers to look at a property.
While photographs have always been a part of marketing, in today's face-paced, social-media world, impressive photographs can play a major role in making a sale.
Many real estate agents make use of a professional photographer to capture the photos needed to competitively market a property.
With the use of drones, aerial views of a property are getting some attention.
Relying on professionals
Susan McFadden, operating principal at Keller Williams Realty Group Inc., Wyomissing, said she only uses professional photography.
"I am finding about 50 percent of real estate agents use professional photographers," McFadden said. "And you can always tell right away. It makes a huge difference."
But for about 10 percent of her listings, McFadden also uses aerial photography via drones.
"I use those photos that I really want to show off the magnificence of the property," McFadden said. "It's not always used on a price basis, because the photos really show off a property well. It's a great first shot to attract people."
McFadden said she sees a big difference in response when she posts an aerial photo.
"It creates a buzz on social media, and people who see it tag people they know like a certain type of home," she said. "Sometimes people didn't even think they wanted to move until they see the photo."
McFadden said she sees the aerial photos as a new way to market houses and believes they are not used by a majority of real estate agents.
"They are not the norm by any means, but I try to stay ahead of what other people are doing," she said.
While McFadden said the aerial photos often elicit a jaw-dropping response, she cautions that she would not make use of the drone technology when showcasing smaller homes.
"An aerial photo may make the homes appear too close together," she said.
Putting drones to work
But aerial stills and videos are a specialty of the business, using drone technology.
"More and more agents are doing it, because it is a great way to showcase a property," Lander said. "The photos show the vast area of the entire property, and are especially helpful when showing a property with specialty landscaping."
Lander said the agents with whom she works usually use a photo taken from the drone as a "first-impression" picture.
With an ever-growing business, Lander said she owns three phantom drones.
But Lander said flying a drone is not all fun and games. She noted there are strict regulations and rules to follow.
"In order to fly a drone for profit, you must be licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration," Lander said.
According to the FAA website, as of Dec. 12, all drone owners are required to register with the agency.
"It's kind of like getting a license for anything else: You have to register and then complete a test," Lander said. "And the FAA is changing the rules constantly, so you have to take it seriously. A drone is not a toy."
In addition to the licensing, Lander said she has to be aware of any areas that have been designated as no-fly zones.
"Sometimes, someone has to get permission, but there are some properties where you flat-out cannot fly," she said.
"Also, every time a drone goes up, there are insurance issues to be concerned with."
Matt Wolf, team leader on the Matt Wolf Team, RE/MAX of Reading, Spring Township, said that when the drone technology first came out, some real estate agents questioned if it was even legal.
"Now it is more mainstream, and more companies offer the service," Wolf said. "Some agents use their own drone, but we prefer the professionals.
"It's a neat technology that adds another feather to our quiver to draw consumers," Wolf said.
Wolf said he finds the technology especially helpful when attempting to sell a property, where he wants to show the perspective of the house with the land.
"We've used it in selling a working farm, and the photos showed how much of the land was tillable versus not tillable," Wolf said.
Wolf estimates that he uses the drone photography for about 20 percent of his listings.
"I consider using it when selling 1 acre or more," he said. "It also gives potential buyers who may live outside of this area a good perspective of what the property holds, very much like a virtual tour."
When she started Berks 360 Tour Designs, Lander said she didn't see as many real estate agents using professional photographers.
"It has become much more popular, because in order to stand out, real estate agents needed to use better photos," Lander said.
To have Lander do an aerial shoot will cost about $125 and will include six or seven images.