Whether you're listing commercial or residential real estate, or even just listing vacant lots, you're going to be at a disadvantage if you're not including aerial photography in your marketing of the property.

At a recent real estate convention in Cleveland, OH, OAR (held by the Ohio Association of Realtors®), the excitement around an aerial photography booth was palpable. The question asked most frequently by real estate agents was, “How does this work?”

How Does Aerial Photography Work for Real Estate?

Well, if you've grown up around technology, you know that it's really a rather simple process – as long as you go with a pro. Basically, you consult with the aerial photographer on what you would like captured, give the address, and select your package. Don't get us wrong – capturing the images from the sky is not simple, but the process for the real estate agent should be. A reputable professional will be able to provide you with a reasonably priced package, so shop around; be comfortable with whom you choose, so that you'll be happy with the shots you get and the overall experience.

If you have a few reservations, be assured that the drone and the pilot are unobtrusive; they'll do the shoot on site, parking their vehicle away from the listing home, never in the driveway; the mobile command center (the drone-flying equipment) is confined to the listing property, and the images take just a short amount of time to capture. The pilot will consult with you in advance, making sure that your property will be shot in the best light, at the angle you want, capturing just the perspective that you have in mind. And... don't worry if you're not sure how best to capture the location; your aerial photography pro will be able to give you guidance on that during your consultation.

What Can I Expect to Pay for Aerial Images of My Listing?

Most aerial photography companies will have several options for you. You can expect packages in the Midwest to start as low as $125 for standard quality photographs. Expect to pay a bit more on the East and West coasts. As your needs increase (higher quality photographs, special shooting situations, extra quantities of photographs, etc.), your cost will increase incrementally. Video packages can start as low as $225, and both packages should include branded and unbranded versions of your photography.

What Type of “Finished Product” do I Get from an Aerial Photographer?

Your final format will be digital, so in addition to using it for print, you'll also be able to use it for email, web posting and social media. A branded video image will include an agent's contact information (email, phone) and head shot, as well as the broker's name and company logo. A professional real estate aerial photography company should include unbranded versions as part of the package they offer (typically 10 images in a standard package), so you'll have those for use in your MLS listings. For non-MLS use, you may also add branding to your still images – most providers can offer you this option, as well. 

What Price Range Property Is Best Suited for Aerial Photography?

You may think that aerial photography should be reserved for multi-million dollar properties. Actually, the price of the property is rarely the determining factor for when it is best to employ a drone for aerial images of your listing. Think about the specifics of the real estate you're trying to show. Aerial images are perfect for vacant land. They're great to show water-front properties. Properties with sprawl, those that extend into wooded areas, or those that abut water, are great ones to capture from the sky. If the property has unusual lines, special back yards, built-in pools, or multi-level decks – unique features like these may be best captured from above, as well.

What about Licenses or Permits? Do I have to Worry about That?

The short answer is no. As long as you go with a professional aerial photography company, they'll most likely have either their Section 333 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorization for the commercial use of drones, or they'll have their part 107 Unmanned Aircraft Rule authorization. The Section 333 is still good (it's a 2-year authorization), and it will be replaced by the part 107 in the coming years. With either authorization, FAA requirements – the operational limitations, pilot certification and responsibilities, as well as aircraft requirements – must be followed strictly. The professional aerial photography company you select should willingly share with you exactly what authorizations it has been granted. Don't be shy about asking for it.

Your aerial photography pro can give you good ideas and guidance on how best to photograph your listing. All this can be covered in your consult prior to the shoot. There are many qualified, licensed, professional aerial photography companies for you to discover. Speak with one today to learn how this emerging trend can put you on top with your customers.

About the author

Barbara Barclay is the marketing arm of Aerial Agents, a Cleveland, Ohio-based FAA Approved, commercial drone aerial photography & videography media production company. In the birthplace of aviation, Aerial Agents is established as the foremost experienced, professional and licensed expert in UAS (unmanned aerial systems) or "drone" piloting. Drone aerial imagery has multiple applications in a wide variety of areas including sales, marketing, real estate, education, travel, entertainment, hospitality, information, instruction, insurance, news, court cases and more.