An eye in the sky: Drones help sell homes

Cropping up in Canada’s real estate market over the last few years, realtors are embracing the use of drones to help sell properties.

Providing potential homebuyers with aerial photos of properties for sale, these drones make it possible for those interested to get a feel for the land without physically being present. Compared to the thousands it would cost to hire a helicopter and photographer, the drone technology ranges from a few hundred dollars for personal aircraft, to up to $200,000 for commercial grade units. The higher end drones are operated by controllers, like those used for video games, or can resemble an iPhone.

Paul Rouillard, a realtor in Windsor, ON, uses a drone to make video tours of his listed properties. He says aerial footage can showcase a home like nothing else, captures a ‘wow factor,’ and helps to sell out-of-town homes, quickly. Below is a sample of his work.

In Summerside, P.E.I., realtor Michael Poczynek uses his easy-to-use remote-control drone quad-rotor helicopter to provide a whole new perspective.

“It has a built-in GPS, built in compass, and built-sensors to tell when the helicopter is shifting,” he told CBC News. “It does a lot of the flying for you, which makes it a lot easier and better for aerial photography.”

Last year, Transport Canada issues 945 Special Flight Operation Certificates (SFOC), a more than 500 percent jump from 155 certificated in 2011. The certificate is required to fly unmanned aircraft for commercial purposes and typically detail where unmanned aerial vehicles can be flown, by whom, and during what time period.

While these drones seem to be a great tool for realtors, there have been reported incidents. One particularly incident was reported by a 50 year old Australian woman, who told the BBC that she was humiliated when a drone used by a realtor captured an image of her sunbathing topless in her yard. The photo was then mistakenly used as a billboard image outside the suburban development near her home.

Pierre Leduc, spokesman for the Canadian Real Estate Association, said the association doesn’t track the number of drones used by its members. However, he does note that the most notable area of drone use increase is with rural and agricultural property.

What are your thoughts? Are these drones necessary, or do they overstep boundaries and invade personal privacy? What will be next?