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Inside Business | 2 min read

Drones: A New Perspective

Charlotte Norman

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Charlotte Norman

In a world where there’s no such thing as too much information, all businesses, including real estate, are always on the lookout for new ways to communicate with their customers. This can often mean looking to modern technology or trying to see things from a different angle.Combine the two, and it means firing up a drone, soaring into the sky and giving prospective buyers a new perspective on their potential property.

Drone photography has taken the entire real estate industry by storm, with everyone from agents to developers and advertising agencies choosing to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to get that ultimate video footage or still shots of someone’s soon-to-be dream home.Thanks to UAVs, the vast sweeping shot of a property and its surrounding areas is no longer a luxury reserved for exclusive addresses and big spenders.

Drone footage is simply property storytelling in a unique format, albeit one that insists you have a licence, and provides prospective buyers with a better idea of the property even before the doors have opened for inspection. Building a narrative around a property is a clever way of evoking emotion, and by setting cinematic drone footage to a soaring soundtrack, you can emote to a buyer what it could feel like to live there.

Currently, in Australia, anyone can buy a drone and, if you’ve wandered around your local park at the weekend, you’ll know that plenty of people have. However, to use it for commercial purposes, you must have a Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) license. If you don’t have a licence, and you’re looking to head into the big blue yonder to take some shots, you’ll have to hire someone who does. Fortunately, many specialist companies are offering this service.

Eric Milliken’s Digital Real Estate is one such company. “When I initially applied for my CASA licence it was still early days in terms of licensing for UAVs; I was only the 125th business to get one, now there are thousands,” Milliken says.

“Back then I had to complete my private pilot licence theory exam, but these days it’s a lot easier. It’s a one-week course, which is why more businesses are entering the marketplace.”

Despite becoming the norm, Milliken believes the advantage of aerial footage to sell a property is huge. “Drones allow photographers to get a camera where we couldn’t before: off a cliff, over trees, over the ocean and 15 to 120 metres off the ground. “This allows us to show potential views for development sites as well as larger lots and how a property is laid out,” he says.

“I have also had several clients sell residential properties for record street prices when using the drone as it gives more of a prestige feel to a property. It’s able to show nearby amenities such as schools, transport and the proximity to the CBD. “The other great thing is drone video, which a lot of clients are now choosing, as it once again shows an entirely different perspective on a home.”

As with many new technologies, airborne photography raises issues of privacy. The fact that small, relatively silent and unmanned objects can be soaring over the top of a neighbourhood snapping away without us knowing is something some people aren’t entirely comfortable with.

This is understandable in examples such as the woman in Mount Martha, Victoria, who was sunbathing in her backyard when photographed by a drone. She was blissfully unaware of being photographed topless – until, that is, she found herself on the sales board for the million-dollar property next door.

Some companies say that they are always sure to put signage around the neighbourhood when they’re shooting, and others state that they would blur around the edges of the photographed property so nothing, and no one, accidentally slips into view.While it’s reassuring to know that companies are aware of trouble spots, there is no legal requirement for them to take these measures in regards to photography of people in public places (private property is a different story). Google Streetview cars, for example, have been scooting around our streets for years with little fuss.

Legal and ethical issues must always be addressed when businesses employ new technology, but it’s also time to accept that modern technology is everywhere and here to stay. We carry it in our pockets, use it in our cars, and have it scattered all over our homes – so why shouldn’t we use it to sell them, too?

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