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Drone photography takes the real estate business to new heights

Property Man: Modern technology is changing the way real estate agents show houses. Bob Massi of 'Property Man' takes us inside the trend

The best real estate agents know that presentation is key in attracting serious buyers. And the bigger the property, the more ambitious the marketing plan needs to be.

Today’s savvy buyers do their research online before they even pick up the phone to call an agent.

Any agent working to sell a luxury property makes significant upfront investments in professional photography in order to have the kind of “glamour shots” that attract buyers’ interest. The interiors may have looked beautiful, but other selling points, like landscaping, outdoor features or vast acreage, have historically been harder to capture. Some agents would hire helicopters to hover over properties in order to get aerial shots– and choppers certainly aren’t cheap.

Today, technology has made it possible to capture amazing Hi-Def images hiring a manned aircraft. You can create an immersive virtual experience that gives potential buyers the option to tour a property without ever leaving their house.

Recent changes to rules governing the use of small unmanned aircrafts – or drones – have made it possible for real estate professionals to use them for photographic purposes.

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Many hobbyists in the U.S. already fly drones. But that doesn’t mean you can just go out, buy a drone and start filming properties from the air. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) governs the use of drones for commercial purposes.

And because the FAA is a federal agency, the rules are strict. So before you run out and spend $1,200 on a drone of your own, you need to educate yourself.

To be eligible to obtain a remote pilot certification with a small Unmanned Aircraft System (or “sUAS”)  rating from the FAA, you must be:

–At least 16 years old;

–Able to read, write and understand the English language

–In a physical and mental condition that allows for the safe operation of the sUAS

Plus, you must take and pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test.

Additional information regarding the application process is available on the FAA’s website.

Once you have obtained certification, there’s a host of operational rules you must learn and observe. While drones can be flown indoors or outdoors to highlight all the best features of a property, they must be flown in daylight hours. There are insurance considerations and state and local privacy rules that must be observed; there are limitations on height and radius, and on speed. You must register your drone, and file a preflight plan.

And then, of course, you need to learn how to actually fly the drone — and how to get the best pictures possible while doing so.

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If you’re reading all of this and thinking that the complexities of using a drone to capture the best aspects of a property are more trouble than it’s worth, there’s good news. Fortunately, for those of you who want fantastic video without all of the hassle of becoming a certified drone pilot, it’s becoming easier to find businesses that are licensed, insured and ready to provide you with the footage you need to add the wow factor to your marketing plan.

To find a firm that specializes in obtaining drone footage, the go-to resource is the International Drone Expo.

Last year, over one-third of the booths at the Expo were manned by companies matching commercial clients to specialists in FAA regulations, image analysis needs and consulting services.

New technological advances like drones are changing how the most successful agents market their properties. With the newly relaxed regulations for flying drones and the growing number of firms offering aerial services, there’s no excuse for relying on the same old photos taken at ground level.

With a relatively small investment, you can give your business a big boost.

“Bobb Massi Is the Property Man” airs Friday nights at 8:30 p.m. EST on Fox Business Network.

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