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Using Drone Footage to Sell CRE Properties

Most of us have seen dazzling aerial photos and videos of million-dollar mansions for sale, taken by drone photography professionals. This technique can also help brokers and agents selling commercial real estate.

Drones were initially invented and manufactured for military purposes, with the first radio-controlled models appearing almost 100 years ago. They were initially described as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

During the 1930s, the Radioplane OQ-2 was introduced. Initially developed in England, this remote-controlled UAV that resembled a model airplane became a mass-produced product. 

The Radioplane didn’t take photos; instead, they served as targets for anti-aircraft gunners in training. Nearly 15,000 were manufactured in the United States during World War II alone.

Later UAV models were developed for other military uses, including reconnaissance and military intelligence. This was when drone photography was first introduced. 

Today, radio-controlled drones take high-quality photos and videos of various subjects, including commercial real estate for sale. 

If you’re planning to sell a commercial property, this article will explain the benefits of adding drone images to your sales materials and how to hire a drone photographer.

Drone Photography: A Unique Perspective 

According to the multiple-listing services (MLS) used by residential agents and brokers, property listings that feature drone images are up to 68% more likely to sell. 

Owners of commercial property for sale can expect a similar boost, especially if the property’s exteriors are difficult to photograph with a traditional camera.

Drone photography provides potential buyers with enhanced visuals and more:

  • Drones deliver a unique, birds-eye view of a property that can provide details of the building details, enhancements, staff and visitor parking, and finishes.
  • Viewers can judge the property’s relationship to any neighboring buildings, including ease of access by delivery vehicles.
  • Photos can include popular proximate retailers and nearby highways.
  • Video footage of the surrounding areas and amenities can enhance a property’s appeal, especially for those who will inhabit the property as business owners.
  • The condition of a building’s roof and any HVAC systems installed there can be easily seen with the appropriate drone photos.

While many inexpensive drones take passable photos, sellers will increase their chances of an easier, more lucrative sale by hiring a specialist: a drone photographer who specializes in commercial real estate.

Hire a Photographer to Make Your Property Pop

Like almost every other business service, drone photographers primarily advertise their services online. Several websites feature national drone pilot networks and databases. They include Droners and Dronegenuity. 

While you’ll probably have no problems locating photographers specializing in real estate, you aren’t “locked in” to hiring one. Go with your intuition. Ask for referrals.

Here are some questions to ask a potential hire.

Ask to see their drone pilot license. While this may seem fanciful, it’s not. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires anyone using a drone for commercial purposes to pass an exam for a Remote Pilot License. 

The reason for this FAA regulation? Drone pilots must be familiar with flight restrictions and airspace classifications, so the drone’s flight will never interfere with any other aircraft that may be nearby.

Take some time to review photo portfolios. Ideally, this should contain various building types and locations, with some photos taken in potentially tricky areas. 

  • If you’re selling a property with other buildings close by, ask for photos that prove the photographer’s skills in this area. 
  • Will the photographer crop or frame some shots — or retouch some photos — that will set your property apart from the others?

If you’re knowledgeable about digital photography, ensure your photographer will deliver photos and videos with appropriate resolution and quality.

You’ve Found Your Drone Photographer. Now What?

Here are some topics to discuss before you commit to a photographer’s services. (A CRE specialist may share one or more of these with you before you mention them.)

#1 – Cost Structure

Most drone photographers charge by the hour. However, many offer contingencies in case of bad weather or other unforeseen snags to the best possible photos and videos.

Be sure to ask how many photos and/or videos you can expect. You may want to ask if your contract can state a minimum of these.

#2 – Traffic and Parking

While residential drone photos tend to avoid busy highways and heavy traffic, a full parking lot can be a huge positive for retail commercial property. 

The only thing to avoid: large delivery vehicles that are snarling traffic.

#3 – Neighboring Buildings

If the property for sale is near an attraction that could be a “plus” for a prospective buyer, ask the photographer to make a note of this. 

For example, if the property for sale serves take-out food, some photos should include the property, plus a popular beach or outdoor market nearby.

#4 – Maximum Height

Generally, a drone is not allowed to fly higher than 400 feet. However, shots taken at 400 feet can be some of the most compelling in your ad. 

#5 – Delivery

Ask about planning a post-flight session when you can view all quality photos and choose the ones you’ll be using. 

If you’re a CRE broker or agent, be sure to acquire a few photos of properties you’ve sold by using drone photography. 

Framed, they make attractive wall decor…something you can brag about.

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