Getting Elevated: Are Drones the Next Big Thing?

Land-based Aerial Photography by Mediamax

The buzz around drones is more than just the sound of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) zipping overhead. If you follow Inman News, you’ve seen the recent coverage and you know drones will have their day at the upcoming Real Estate Connect conference.

Even the New York Times has taken notice of their “cool factor,” at least for realtors selling multimillion-dollar estates in Connecticut.

Photography for Real Estate is blogging about them; Google has sponsored a “hang out” on them; and how about Amazon’s plan to start delivering with them?

Are drones poised to bust the skies wide open?

Well, my take is interest in aerial photography really is growing. And it’s easy to see why. It gives you a competitive advantage. It’ helps you win listings when you can show your clients’ homes from a whole new angle. It also helps your listings get noticed online because it’s unique and not everybody’s doing it.

I know of two clients who order aerial photography with every listing – because it sells.

But for photographers as well as realtors right now, drones are still the Wild West. Land-based aerial photography offers the same whiz-bang cool without the risks and the costs.

A couple of points about drones  you should know:

  • Right now FAA regulations prohibit the commercial use of drones. Photographers are offering the service, including in Colorado, but  at the risk of getting their hand slapped or worse. The FAA is expected to issue regulations some time in 2014.
  • The investment and the learning curve for operators are quite steep. Currently photographers actually expect to crash their first drone and replace it while they learn. Replacing propellers lost on rough landings isn’t cheap either.  That’s going to keep prices to real estate customers high at least for the time being.
  • I don’t yet see photographers being willing or able to deploy a fleet of drones, so no downward price pressure there either.
  • Media coverage makes drones seem a lot easier to operate than they are. I’ve heard about a drone that lost its GPS and took off. The operator had to climb a 40-foot tree to retrieve it.

I think for now land-based aerial photography is the better, quicker, more dependable and cost-effective way to elevate your listing photographs.  Mediamax currently has two trailer-mounted rigs that can go up 60 feet and we’ll be adding land-based aerial options in 2014. Count on us to continue to deliver land-based aerial with the same ease, speed and reliability we’re known for.

Of course, if you like whiz-bang cool as much as I do, keep your eyes on the sky. Some day you might see drones wearing the Mediamax logo coming to a photography session near you.

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