12/01/2016 Tim Butler

5 Considerations for Real Estate Agents when Hiring a “drone”

“Drones” (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles)  are not constrained by many of the restrictions of traditional real estate photography and videos, instead allowing agents to showcase the entirety of properties and their surrounding areas, including the size of the block and its proximity to public transport, parkland, schools and shops. Aerial video draws buyer’s attention to the listing and is a powerful tool in communicating the value and highlights of a property. However, before you run out and buy a drone to capture this amazing imagery, there are a few things that you, as an agent, must be aware of!

Don’t get caught out without insurance – use a licenced operator!
Tim Butler – Overall Photography

1. Licencing and Regulations

In order to use a drone or UAV for any sort of commercial activity (including photos or video for real estate listings) the pilot must hold a “UAV Controllers Certificate” (think of it as a pilot’s licence for a UAV) and the company must hold a UAV Operators Certificate. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) regulates all airspace in Australia, and penalties of up to $8,500 apply for any unlicensed activity. For this reason you will need to engage the services of licenced drone operator. An up to date list of Certified Operators can be found on CASA’s website here and you can always insist on sighting a copy of the Operators Certificate issued by CASA.

Operators may also be restricted on where they are able to operate. Properties close to airports and helipads or at night may present particular difficulties, but your operator should be able to advise on these limitations.


2. Focus Points

Before you engage a drone operator and let them loose on your property, it is important to make sure that you have agreed what aspects of the property and surrounds you would like your operator to focus on.  Last thing you want is to be given a number of photos of the existing house when the block is to be re-developed and you were after view shots from the new apartment!

Good operators will be able to discuss your marketing plan and provide recommendations which shots will look best for your property.



3. Image Quality

Cameras on drones range from GoPro action cameras through to professional grade full frame digital SLRs.  It is important to consider where you intend to use the drone imagery (online, print, billboard etc) and choose an operator who has the equipment to deliver the image quality that you require.

Just as important is to choose an operator who is an expert in photography / videography, not just piloting a drone. Similar to traditional photography, anyone can buy a drone, but not everyone has the skills or experience to capture the best images or video possible and to post produce those into a professional final product.  In the end it is the final product that is important, not the method of capturing it.  It is always best to insist on seeing examples of your operators recent work prior to engaging them.

It is the final product that is important, not the method of capturing it
Tim Butler – Overall Photography


4. Neighbours

It is best to inform the neighbours that you will be filming the property using a drone, and work through any issues or concerns they might have in advance.

You may recall the negative publicity surrounding a real estate listing where a neighbour was pictured sunbaking in their yard in the drone shots!

They say all publicity is good publicity, but that might not be the case when you have a privacy regulator or CASA calling ringing for an explanation.  Good UAV operators will be happy to assist you with this process, and will be able to allay the fears of even the most paranoid and nosey neighbour.



5. Insurance

It goes without saying, but it is always best to ensure that your preferred operator holds sufficient public liability insurance in the unfortunate event of an accident. This is another good reason to always use a licenced operator – normal business insurance coverage will not cover aviation activities such as piloting a UAV. Don’t get caught out without insurance, don’t risk your business – use a licenced UAV operator!

If you are interested in finding out more, please feel free to Contact Us.

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