Using Video and Drones in Real Estate

If you aren’t using video and drones in real estate yet, you should start. While video should be used to market any business, the real estate industry has so much to gain because of its visual product.

My friend Renee Stoll with Big Red Media is an expert on this topic. Like me, she is a former TV reporter who is a great writer, producer and videographer. Now, she works in the real estate industry and is combining all of her skills to modernize the way agents market themselves, their expertise, and their business.

In real estate, pictures are a must… but it’s 2016. Not only is video more engaging, but it’s more popular. Now, it’s time to take it to the next level by using drone photography. This is something Renee is ahead of the game on and does very well.


Using a drone in real estate

There are so many benefits to droning in real estate.

  1. It gives you the opportunity to show off a large or opulent home and its surroundings from a bird’s eye view.
  2. You can set yourself apart when you post to real estate websites and social media.
  3. Using still pictures from drones videos look amazing in mass flyer emails and pictures in MLS listings. (Don’t forget, you can also link to the drone video!)

Why you should be droning

Besides fashion, I can’t think of another industry that is more visual than real estate. If you’re going to showcase the beauty of something, you should really showcase it through droning. Need more convincing?

    1. For homes priced above $400,000, it’s becoming standard to have drone images and/or videos that show the extra mile an agent is willing to go for quality.
    2. Content with relevant images and videos, whether it be your website or an email blast, get 94% more views. That’s huge!
    3. Having a video on the landing page of your real estate website can get you an 86% customer conversion rate. Hello! Those are new clients! For example, take a look at this drone photography business that recently started with just a video on a landing page video. The creator has already scored drone work for large commercial corporations because of it. It pulls you in, doesn’t it?!
    4. When you want to show a large estate that sits on a gorgeous piece of land, probably waterfront, shooting a picture or video on the ground will never give you the same wow factor – no matter how great the photographer is. I don’t think a still picture can rely what this video does at :20 seconds.

What you need to know before you drone or hire someone to drone

1. The FAA issued new drone laws in June of 2016 that will be implemented mid-August.  If you hire someone before then, make sure they have their Section 333 Exemption.  You can look up their business or name at and see their exemption, but incase the website is not updated, a drone operator should have a letter issuing exemption.

This exemption is what the FAA is currently issuing to commercial drone operators, until August. Yes, anyone can drone for recreational purposes, however, Renee suggests using an experienced drone operator who understands air space.  For real estate videos, you typically don’t have to go higher than 100 feet to get great drone shots. The maximum allowed by the FAA is 400 feet. To be safe, ask your drone operator how high he or she takes shots.  If you’re trying to get pictures of 20 acres, than 400 feet may be necessary… but for a home, it’s probably not.


2. Under the rule to be implemented in August, the person flying a drone must be at least 16 years old and have a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating, or be directly supervised by someone with such a certificate.

To qualify for a remote pilot certificate, an individual must either pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center or have an existing non-student Part 61 pilot certificate. If qualifying under the latter provision, a pilot must have completed a flight review in the previous 24 months and must take a UAS online training course provided by the FAA. The TSA will conduct a security background check of all remote pilot applications prior to issuance of a certificate. (Who knew droning was so serious?!)


What to ask a drone operator

  1. What height levels do you take pictures?

Most drone pictures are taken at two different heights – a mid-level (30-50 feet) and then a higher level (50-100 feet). For video, you likely want the operator to shoot lifting from the ground up to get that wow factor.

2. What format will I get the video in?

WAV files are great, but they are very large files and will be hard to load and edit on your own.  MP4 files are smaller and easier to load if you don’t have a fast computer.


3. Will you edit my video and add music or a voiceover?

This is an example of pictures and drone video with added music and VO for a multi-million dollar home.

4. What time of day will you take pictures or video?

Sometimes, an operator may need to do this in two separate shoots. If the large waterfront backyard is the selling point, you may want the drone operator to shoot when the sun is directly on that side of the house. Mid-day, the sun may cause shadows on the other side of the house… or maybe you want a sunset shot on the backyard to show potential buyers what it would be like to sit there and watch the amazing sunsets. Those are some things to keep in mind.


Final droning tips

Renee with Big Red Media says her biggest pet peeve is when a drone operator parks in the driveway and the car is in the shot! In the video Renee voiced and edited that is linked above, the drone operator parked his blue truck in front of a $7.9 million dollar house. She ended up finding ways to edit out most of that footage for that reason.

Most importantly, talk to who you hire and make sure he or she knows exactly what your expectations are… and you know exactly what he or she is capable of. Also, Be sure to make a list of things that are important, so you don’t forget to get your points across.