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Real Estate

Look up in the sky! The drones are coming…

One of the hot topics this winter is the mainstreaming of drone photography for real estate. At the annual Inman Connect real estate convention this week in New York City, a drone was even flown around on the stage as a demonstration. Yes, the buzzy little devices are certainly catching the attention of listing agents around the country these days.

Drones (defined as self-contained and powered flying camera platforms) for real estate uses have been around for several years now, but the costs have generally been prohibitive for an agent or photographer doing real estate work. Plus, pros were unwilling to invest in the technology early on, since everyone knows that newer generations of drones will be cheaper and more advanced.

This year, however, we're seeing a spike in interest and several Central Pennsylvania photographers have invested in drones. Nationally, there have been several high-profile articles written on the acceptance of aerial photos for listings, notably the recent New York Times piece on local brokers getting into the game.

Using drones for aerial photography definitely has its pros and cons right now, however. On the plus side, the angles achieved by aerial platforms really have the potential to make a listing pop. Some have even used drones (which are generally small, up to 2 feet in diameter) indoors to get cool spins and pan shots of large rooms. The outdoor footage can also be quite stunning as the drone rises above the tree line to pan the neighborhood.

On the other hand, the use of drones for commercial purposes is a hot-button issue right now; the FAA has effectively banned the commercial use of drones at any altitude (a further ruling on this is expected early this year), while others claim that the "personal use" of one below the 400-foot altitude limit and over their private property is enough to stay within legal bounds.

Also, the loud, buzzy drones can cause the neighborhood some grief and potential liability should they get out of control over a public place. The companies adopting drone photography claim to have covered their bases as far as legality and safety; one can only hope.

Either way, expect to see more (much more) use of drones to achieve new and interesting angles in the game of promoting homes for sale in the midstate this year.

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