LONG BEACH – The real estate industry is getting into drones in a big way, and not just for luxury homes, industry professionals attending the California Association of Realtors conference said Tuesday.
“Drones already are part of our world,” said Pasadena agent Steve Clark. “If you’re not hiring a drone operator that is top notch, then you’re losing and more importantly, your client is losing.”
There are aerial videos and still photos that you can’t get any other way, said Clark, a Seal Beach native. Unlike conventional photography, drones can help home hunters see the home’s surroundings.
“There’s a way to tell the story, and I think the drones have captured that,” he said.
Clark was one of two speakers at the Realtor conference on the use of drones in real estate.
Although agents have been creating marketing videos with drones for at least three years, commercial use technically was illegal -- until now. The Federal Aviation Administration issued new rules on Aug. 29 opening up drones for wider use in real estate.
Under the new provisions, operators don’t need a pilot’s license. Instead, the FAA offers a new designation called a “remote pilot in command certificate,” said state Realtor technology officer Josh Sharfman.
Under the new regulations, the drone must weigh 55 pounds or less, can’t fly higher than 400 feet, can’t fly within five miles of an airport or registered landing strip and can’t go faster than 100 mph. The operator also must maintain visual contact with his or her unmanned craft at all times.
Clark foresees a time in the near future when drones images will become routine for moderately priced homes as well as unique properties.
“I believe everyone should be using them all the time,” he said.
Mission Viejo agent Steve Faskowitz said drone use gives agents an edge in competitive listing presentations.
“You blow them away” when you offer to provide drone images. “That’s how you get the listing.”
Use of drones also has become a tool for home inspectors, roof inspectors and others who climb ladders for home inspections.
Soon, autonomous drones using sonar will become available to videotape everything inside a home, Sharfman said.
“In 20 minutes, it can survey 1,000 square feet,” he said. The video can be used to create an inventory for insurance purposes as well as for promoting a home’s sale.
Several agents had questions about how this brave new world will affect privacy. And how can agents protect themselves from lawsuits in case the drone crashes, they asked.
One agent displayed a drone image in which he had blurred out the surrounding properties, saying he didn’t feel right showing people’s homes on the internet without their knowledge.
Sharfman said agents should get insurance or use operators who have liability insurance to protect against claims for property damage, injuries or an invasion of privacy. And they should consider notifying neighbors of as a courtesy.
In addition to drones, 3D images, virtual reality and mobile phones are changing the way that homes are marketed and purchased, said speaker Christine Dwinggins, marketing vice president for NextHome.com of Pleasanton.
3D images are similar to Google Street View, allowing a consumer to move through a space as if walking through a home. Virtual reality, in which the user dons goggles, is more immersive, like being inside a home.
“It has an impact on how you can see, visualize and experience spaces and places, which really has an impact on real estate,” Dwiggins said.
Mobile home searches have taken over the business as well, surpassing desktop computers in the home-shopping process.
“Technology is impacting the process of how we do business,” she said.
The state Realtor conference continues at the Long Beach Convention Center through Thursday.