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Top 7 Tips for Hiring a Real Estate Drone Photographer.

Updated: Dec 8, 2018

As a residential real estate agent you have many responsibilities when you take on a listing.  You coordinate and direct everything from home staging to showings to paperwork and closings, and of course each element has a set of professionals you work with.

Whether you are in Utah or elsewhere, as you consider your listing marketing options in today’s market, especially with high-end listings and rural properties, a drone-aided aerial video/photo shoot must be considered.

But before you jump into shooting your own drone aerial footage or hire a drone operator to do the job, you need to avoid the pitfalls that go with this new evolving visual marketing channel. Here are my top 7 tips to maximize impact and eliminate risk:

#1: Current FAA Part 107 License

Before you hire any drone operator to do a photo/video shoot check their license.  The best way is to go online to ensure it is in place and current.

As a real estate licensee, especially as a Realtor, using an unlicensed operator could be putting your real estate license at risk and a fine of up to $10,000.  Don’t do it.  Confirm you’re dealing with a licensed professional.

Legal and Safe

#2 $1,000,000 Aviation Liability Insurance

So you confirmed they’re licensed.  That is the first must do step.  The second is confirming insurance.  $1,000,000 is the standard.  Make sure it is drone aviation insurance.  Get a copy of the insurance binder.  The drone operator can use an on demand flight insurance service such as Verifly ( that will provide up to $10 million dollars in coverage for specific jobs.

#3 Get Work Samples

You can have an operator who is licensed and insured.  But if they can’t fly their drone well and get the shots you want, then they’re not worth hiring.  So check out their work product.  Often you can find it on their website.  But don’t just stop there, get a sample that closely represents the type of shot they’ll need to do for your subject listing.  Anyone can do a cool landscape photo or video.  But to do a creative and compelling real estate aerial photo or video that draws in buyers and gets them clamoring to submit offers, that is a talent that only a select few operators have.  Now for that high level of skill you might pay thousands.  Which may be fine for a high-end property.  For a mid-range home you may be fine with a more standard shot and operator skill level.  Because in those price ranges fewer properties have drone shots so yours will stand out from the competition.

#4 What Services Do They Provide?

Are you hiring a photographer and drone operator in one person?  Will they shoot the interiors and exterior and aerials?  Most professional pilots only focus on the external aerials due to time and planning requirements.  Do they just do the raw footage?  Or do they do the sometimes extensive post-production work on the photos and video to get you the best product?  Post production is often the most expensive portion of a project.  So set your budget accordingly.

#5 Staging

Setting the stage for the actual shooting, as in staging the inside of a home, requires careful planning and coordination.  As with the interior you want clean and clear of distractions.  Your drone operator should be able to provide you with a checklist you can use with the property owner to get the home ready for the external shoot.  In addition to that prep work, given the aerial element, weather, timing, and airspace play a role.  Make sure either you and your drone operator are addressing that.

#6 Timing

How quickly do you need the work done?  How extensive is your request?  Does it need to be perfect?  Or is speed more important?  Make sure you’re clear with your expectations and get confirmation on that timing. If a home or property needs to be filmed but is within 5 miles of a controlled airport, a waiver will need to be granted to fly. Your drone operator, working with the FAA, will need time to make that happen.

#7 Cost

With the huge influx of drone operators moving into the residential real estate drone aerial photo/video services market, prices have come down.  For a low end shoot you can get a good raw footage video for a couple hundred dollars.  For higher end quality you’re closer to $500.  And for post production work or higher-end shoots you could spend thousands.  But when you consider the home price, the commission you receive, and the edge your property has over similarly priced comps, spending a small percentage by getting top quality drone footage can be your best marketing investment available.

In particular, if I was looking to set myself apart from other real estate agents at a listing presentation, being able to say, “And as an added benefit, in addition to our traditional print and internet based marketing that all agents do, we pay for a drone-based video shoot to ensure you get the edge over similarly priced homes.  And we pay for that so you don’t have to.  It is our gift to you.

Finally, I'd love to hear your comments and thought on this article. As always my team of professionals are ready to help you get the most out of your business and to be able to provide the best service to your clients. Iif you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us at: or or yet again at:

DB Dronoff

Owner, Falcon View Imagery

Credited to Mike McRitchie Nov 17

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