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The Best Drones for Real Estate Marketing

Online Real Estate Marketing

The old school methods of real estate marketing using billboards, newspapers, and TV commercials are now a thing of the past. With the development of the internet and social media, new marketing methods have been developed, such as drones for real estate marketing, to cater to the social media trend. Potential home buyers are going online to find the home of their dreams, and looking for the best drones for real estate videos.

FACT: 89% of home buyers use mobile devices to search for real estate.

The real estate market is more competitive than ever due to rapidly evolving visual marketing tools and technologies. In order to stand out, modern real estate agents have to be more tech savvy and use the newest technological tools. DIY videos, and simple 2D photography are no longer impressive to the modern generation of home buyers. They expect an engaging online experience to get a true picture of a property.

Newly available computer and video technologies make it possible to create professional looking immersive virtual listings without deep technical knowledge, and at a reasonable price point.

Drones for Real Estate Regulations

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued new rules for the commercial use of drones on June 21, 2016. These new rules make it much easier for real estate agents to use drones for aerial photos and videos. What is odd is that if you look at the FAQs of the National Association of Realtors, they state that current FAA laws prohibit the use of drones for commercial use, which includes taking aerial images of real estate listings. They suggest getting a Section 333 waiver from the FAA. What they fail to mention is that you need to have a pilot’s license to get a Section 333 waiver.

Obviously, most realtors, surveyors, and appraisers do not have a pilot’s license so were unable to use drones for business purposes.

The good news is that you no longer need a pilot’s license to fly a drone for commercial purposes, such as real estate sales. Instead, what you need to obtain is a remote pilot’s certificate under the new regulatory framework of Section 107. This is a certification process that covers most low-risk commercial drone operations.

Obtaining the certificate does not require a flying experience. What you need to do is to pass an exam at an FAA testing center. The test cost is about $150 and takes about 20 hours to prepare and study for the exam. The applicant must also meet the following four eligibility requirements:

  • Be at least 16 years of age
  • Can read, write and understand the English language
  • Be in proper physical and mental condition to safely operate a drone
  • Pass a background check by the Transportation Safety Authority

Once you have completed and passed your exam at testing center, you will have your flying certificate within six to eight weeks.

There are operational limitations under Section 107. You can read the full Section 107 summary here, but these are the main points:

  • Your drone must weigh less than 25 kb (55 lbs)
  • Keep your drone in your line of sight. This also applies for drones with waypoint navigation systems. For safety reasons, you need to keep your eyes on your drone.
  • Do not fly higher than 400 feet above the ground.
  • Do not fly over people. If your drone fails, you don’t want it to hit and injure someone.
  • Daylight operations only. You’re not going to get great pictures at night anyways.
  • Maximum ground speed of 100 mph. Just don’t be flying a racing drone, and you’ll be fine.
  • The pilot must execute a preflight check which includes inspecting the drone to ensure that it is in safe operating condition. Also, the flying route needs to be examined to be sure that there is no risk to people or property.

The Modern Home Buyer

It is critical for a real estate agent to understand who the modern home buyers are. Millennial buyers now comprise 35% of all new home buyers. The modern buyer wants more engaging, interactive, and mobile friendly content from the real estate market.

FACT: 92% of homebuyers search the internet before contacting a real estate agent.

This shift in the buyer landscape has forced an innovation in real estate marking. Experimental and 3D technologies that were once in the research and development stage are now becoming a standard part of listing presentation. The key to utilizing this technology is to emotionally engage with the buyer by better communicating the listing property. Sophisticated real estate agents are learning how to do this.

Online Presence

Buying a home is a good example of a social activity. It requires an individual or couple to involve their family, loan officer, and real estate agent to contribute to their house hunting efforts. Real estate agents are well aware of the need for internet-based advertising with specific focus on social engagement to drive sales.

YouTube offers real estate agents an amazing platform that can be used to reach potential buyers. Videos featuring home tours, personal profiles, client testimonials, and neighborhood profiles are all possible.
Century 21 has reported a 20% increase in sales due to video marketing campaigns on YouTube, Facebook, and Flickr.

Visual Real Estate Marketing

With the change in online media, real estate marketers no longer have a captive audience. Now marketing content has three seconds to attract attention, or the potential buyer will go elsewhere. The best way to capture attention is through visual marketing. Visual marketing is harnessing the power of images.

However, there are different options for visual real estate marketing with associated levels of complexity if you want to do it yourself.

2D Digital Photography

Digital photography is the industry standard when it comes to real estate property marketing. Buyers fully expect to see detailed photos of the property interior and exterior to gain a better understanding of the listing.

Some real estate agents resort to pulling out their smartphones and start snapping photos for the property listing. However, the end results can vary, and will probably not be of the level of quality expected by prospective buyers and sellers. That is not to say that you can’t take professional looking photos yourself. If you have a decent SLR camera, and some basic photography knowledge, you can take high quality images yourself. Otherwise, it’s not difficult to hire a professional photographer for the job.

FACT: Listings with professional photos sell 3 weeks faster, sell an average of $11,000 more, and are 44% more likely to sell above list price.

For low-end listings, taking photos yourself can be practical and save you money. A simple course on smartphone photography and image editing can get you started. However, some agents prefer spending their time winning additional listings and communicating with their clients instead of editing images.

For mid-range listings, real estate agents recognize that a professional photographer is needed to produce high quality images that buyers expect. These images require high end equipment, and knowledge of staging, framing, lighting, and editing.

Video Slideshow

Simple virtual tours of a listing can be created using a series of still photos that are set to music, and use a transition effect. These virtual tours are still-frame slideshows that are an easy DIY option for low end listings where the cost of a professional photographer is not practical.

Videos for Real Estate

The video quality expected by the modern buyer excludes the option of using a smartphone for a DIY listing video. A shaky hand-held video will not inspire confidence in the buyer, and will make the resultant video look amateurish.

FACT: 70% of home buyers expect to see a video as part of the property listing.

Using a professional video shoot, the listing can include shots at multiple times of the day that give the buyer a real feel for the property. Similar to 2D photos, a professional videographer is needed to produce high quality videos.

360 degree Panoramic Walkthroughs

360 degree panoramic photography gives the viewer a sense of where a scene sits in relation to the property. It feels as if the buyer is standing in the property, and turning around.

Including this panoramic view on a 2D floor plan provides for a truly immersive walkthrough experience.

This is similar to what you can experience with Google maps. You can move your standing location by clicking on the 2D map, and then rotate your point of view to gain a better understanding of your surroundings.

Drones for Real Estate

Aerial drones have added a new dimension to real estate photography and videography marketing. A drone with a camera can be flown high above the property to capture unique exterior views, and provide vies of the surrounding neighborhood.

Drones videos compliment interior videos to give online buyers a complete feel for the interior and exterior of a property. Videos of the surrounding neighborhood are useful for highlighting proximity to schools, parks, or other area features.

There are many benefits for using drones for real estate marketing:

Create more compelling images: Modern drones allow a pilot to create simple dramatic shots using a combination of GPS programmed waypoints, with automatic points of interest camera targeting.

Create more interesting virtual tours: A camera drone can be used on the interior of a home to generate a virtual tour of the property.

Highlight Property Features: Aerial photos and videos can highlight important property features such as landscaping, pools, back yards, and walking paths.

Generate New Business: By showing the market that you are capable of using a drone for photos and videos sends the message to prospective sellers that you are technically savvy, and will make their property look amazing.

Beat the Competition: It is obvious that listings that look better, and provide more clarity of information will sell better.

Save money: Drone videography is far cheaper than shooting videos and photos from a helicopter or a fixed wing aircraft.

Best Drones for Real Estate Marketing

This section is for the real estate agent who wants to get a drone to shoot aerial photos and videos for their property listings, but are not sure which one to get. Before going into our drone recommendations, there are some things you need to keep in mind when selecting a drone for real estate photos and videos.

Battery Life

Typical average battery lifetime for a mid-range drone suitable for real estate shots is about 15 to 20 minutes. You will definitely want to get an extra battery or two so you can have more flying time. Before you put your drone in the air, you need to think about what shot you want to get, and what course you want to set your drone. You will also want to take the same shot a few times, so that you can pick the best one during the editing process.

Camera Gimbal

You absolutely want to have a drone with a camera gimbal. A gimbal is a support system that allows the camera to point in the same direction regardless of the drone motion. This will remove any image jitter that may have been caused by the drone flight motion. A gimbal is important for getting steady, flowing shots and preventing any camera vibrations. If you do not use a gimbal, you will certainly be disappointed with the results.

Intelligent Flight Modes

To get great aerial photos and videos for real estate listings, you need to do two things: 1. Fly the drone, 2. Control the camera. By getting a drone with intelligent flight modes, you can essentially remove the drone flying task, and focus on getting great pictures. Using waypoint navigation, you can set multiple GPS points that the drone will automatically fly to. This enables you to focus on capturing the shot that you want.

Camera Quality

Any images that you take won’t look good unless a high-quality camera is used. With the advent of 4K image quality to capture creative and innovative videos, it was only a matter of time before such cameras were available for the drone market.

Best Drones for Real Estate Quick Comparison

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Best Drones for Real Estate Reviews

DJI Phantom 4 Review

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  • Forward and rear obstacle detection
  • Automated flight modes
  • 24mm Camera lens

  • Only one battery included
  • Tablet or smartphone needed
  • Fixed landing gear
DJI is the dominant drone manufacturer, so it should be no surprise that the number one drone for real estate is a DJI product. Not only does it have some amazing advanced features, it also has a sleek and attractive design.

The DJI Phantom 4 comes with GPS and a sensor system that makes it very easy to operate. It has 5-direction obstacle sensing and a 4-direction obstacle avoidance system makes this drone virtually crash proof. This allows you to worry less about crashing, and focus more on getting some amazing images.

This drone comes equipped with a 20 Megapixel CMOS camera that is capable of recording 4K at 60fps. This is one of the best cameras that a drone can have. The 60fps will let you capture silky smooth aerial videos of your listing property. The camera is stabilized on a 3-axis gimbal and has aperture control and a mechanical shutter. This camera is bigger, better and more customizable than previous models.

The advanced collision avoidance systems also allow this drone to be flown indoors, allowing capturing videos of the interior and exterior of the property. This is the kind of virtual tours that your buyers and sellers are looking for. The DJI Phantom 4 is one of the best drones for real estate marketing due to its ability to make your listing amazing.

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DJI Inspire 2 Review

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  • Intelligent flight modes
  • Smart home return
  • Upgraded camera and GPS

  • Limited camera compatibility
  • High price
  • No backward compatibility
The DJI Inspire 2 certainly lives up to any expectations you have for a drone to acquire stunning aerial photos and videos. It has a top speed of 67 mph, has redundant batteries and control systems. It is almost uncrashable. It has numerous features that are perfect for capturing stunning shots for real estate listings. It has a fully rotatable gimbal and is protected by a one year warranty.

This drone has a front facing FPV camera and obstacle avoidance system which tracks for incoming objects 30m ahead, while the upward facing infrared sensors look for objects within 5 meters. This drone keeps track of the ground with downward facing terrain detection sensors.

What really sets this drone apart from the rest is its amazing camera. It has several capture modes including CinemaDNG, and ProsRes. The camera has incredible resolutions options including 5.2K 40fps and 4K 60fps. This is a professional camera mounted on a professional drone. The stabilization and image quality are absolutely brilliant, supported by a platform with GPS navigation.

The battery life on this drone is impressive. It will give you 27 minutes of flight time, which is great news for commercial application purposes.

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Yuneec Typhoon H Review

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  • Six rotor design
  • Freely rotating 4K camera
  • Retractable landing gear

  • Low 19 min flight times
  • Bulky controller
  • High price
The Yuneec Tornado is definitely an expensive model, but it has a lot of features that justify its high price tag. This drone can fold in its wings and landing gear, making it easy to transport between listings. The frame is built with carbon fiber, which provides high strength at low weight. It comes with a ST24 transmitter with a dedicated 7 inch screen for first person view, and on screen display.

This drone is powerful enough to lift 7kg of camera gear. You may be hesitant to attach your pricey camera equipment to a drone for fear of it crashing. You don’t have to be worried about that with this drone. With six props, if a motor fails you can still safely land this drone.

The Typhon H’s camera can shoot in 4K at 30 fps, or 1080p at 60 fps. The bigger sensor, faster processor, and wider field of view (115 degrees) allow for capturing stunning images and video.

For the price you pay you get an amazing drone packed full of features. The Typhoon H has smart autonomous flight modes, obstacle avoidance, a dedicated screen, and a 4K camera with 360 degree rotation. The Typhoon H is one of the best drones for real estate due to its ability to capture professional looking images and videos.

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DJI Mavic Pro Review

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  • Super portable design
  • Solid construction
  • Gimbaled 4K camera

  • Not good in low light
  • Not for amateurs
  • Need smartphone screen
If you are looking for a highly portable drone then the DJI Mavic Pro is perfect for you. Usually a compact form factor means fewer features and abilities. This is not the case for this amazing drone. The arms and the props fold in, with the resultant package being the size of a small brick.

Despite the compactness of this drone, it does have a gimbaled 4K camera mounted at the front. You can command the Mavic to orbit a point in place, such as your listing, using preset path waypoints. This drone also has terrain follow which sets the drone at a fixed height. This feature is great for listings with sloping landscapes.

You can expect flight times of about 27 minutes on one battery charge. It takes about an hour to charge the battery, so a few additional batteries are important for long flying sessions.

The camera shoots cinematic 4K video, and 12.7 megapixel still photos. It also has advanced image capture features such as burst capture, and exposure bracketing. The only slight drawback is its narrow field of view. However, if you watch the sample video here, you probably won’t be bothered by this. Due to its compact design, you could use the Mavic to take videos of the interior of the home by holding it in your hand.

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3DR Solo Review

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  • Intelligent flight computer
  • High build quality
  • GoPro compatible

  • Gimbal not included
  • No active collision avoidance
  • No camera included
Drones have made getting amazing aerial photography and videos more readily accessible, but getting professional looking shots does take a lot of practice. It can be tricky to learn how to fly a drone, and control the camera at the same time.

The 3Dr Solo drone helps this issue by simplifying the flying process. It is loaded with many autonomous flight modes that make it easy to get stable cinematic shots of your listing.

This drone comes with two computer processors. One is in the controller, and one is in the drone. This configuration almost eliminates the possibility of firmware freeze.

The drawback to this drone is that it does not come with a camera. However, if you happen to already have a GoPro camera, then this is a great option. 3DR worked with GoPro to build a custom drone integration. You can control your GoPro right from the 3DR controller. The two may be sold separately, but are designed to work together.

The two flight modes that are great for real estate listings are the orbit mode, and the cable cam mode. Cable cam mode allows you to establish two points, and the drone will fly along that line. This leaves you able to focus on the camera, and frame the perfect shot. Orbit mode allows you to set a point, and a distance. The drone will then circle the point and pint the camera at the target. This is great for a full 360 degree view of your listing. The 3DR Solo is one of the best drones for real estate.

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Best Drones for Real Estate Summary



Drones are a real estate marketing game changer. There is no better, or cheaper way to get stunning images of properties. Showing potential buyers the size of a property from the air highlights the features of the property and attracts tech-savvy modern era buyers. These are the best drones for real estate.

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