Benefits of drones in real estate [Science and industry data]

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There are many reasons to use drones in real estate. Personally, I have created videos and photos for friends who are selling houses and they have received a lot more interest in their listing after using drone images and videos. There are actually loads of benefits for using drones in real estate listings and it goes well beyond pretty marketing images to capture the attention of potential buyers. In this article, we are going to go over all of the benefits of drones in real estate and look at what the scientific research and industry data show us about using drones.

Using drone videos in the real estate market significantly increases the traffic for listings (up to 403%). You can use drones to show sun paths, nearby greenery, distances to parks and schools, and other amenities which can significantly increase the sale price.

Everything that a potential customer would want to see. Although 83% of home sellers have reported preferring working with a real estate agent that uses drone photos and videos, only 9% of real estate agents implement them. This gives real estate agents a fantastic opportunity to stand out of the crowd.

Smart real estate technologies are driving significant disruption in the real estate space and one recent scientific paper – published in 2018 – talks about the Big9 smart technologies that real estates are using this includes:

  • Drones
  • the Internet of things
  • cloud software
  • software as a service
  • big data
  • 3D scanning
  • wearable technologies
  • virtual and augmented realities
  • artificial intelligence
  • robotics

Drones are right at the top of that list and there are loads of ways that drones can be used in real estate to benefit both the real estate agent and the seller. Here are some of the most common ways that drones are used in real estate.

How are drones used in real estate?

Drones can be used in a variety of different ways which can include videos, photographs, 360° panoramas, panoramas, and land surveying. In fact, the use of drones in real estate is only really limited to your imagination and anywhere you could benefit from an awe-inspiring photo or video is an opportunity to employ drone technology.

Benefits of drones in real estate.
A photo I took of a friends house on Lord Howe Island

When we often think of drones we think of aerial quadcopters but they are more than that. For example, there are wall climbing drones that allow you to get a unique perspective on the inside of rooms.

Jon Lahey, who leads The Fine Living Group at eXp, a group of 20 plus realtors in the DC area says he uses drones to help market the home. He says,

“drones give a bird’s eye view of backyard landscaping, as well as amenities such as pools and spas. For luxury homes, drones can also give a Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous perspective when presenting the home to prospective buyers.”

— Jon Lahey, The Fine Living Group.

Aerial and wall climbing HD photos

Using an aerial drone you are able to capture a unique perspective on real estate and its situation in a neighbourhood or on a property.

Drones are able to fly around the property and provide a number of different views that bring the property to life in a new and completely different way.

For example, you are able to get images of the property from every angle at different heights. Common heights include 10 foot above ground level and 100 foot above ground level. This gives you the best opportunity to view the property whilst also retaining the details which allow a potential buyer to inspect the property.

There are also a range of drones being developed which enable photography from higher on internal walls. These drones are relatively new to the market and haven’t yet been widely adopted by the real estate market.

But having a drone fly within a building and stick somewhere higher in the corner of a room can provide you with a unique perspective of a property. Also, the drones that are able to stick to the walls will able to inspect the property closer than any aerial drone may be able to – this may give a potential buyer and extra opportunity to see closer details of a range of the properties features such as interesting architecture, or unique perspectives on the property’s layout.

Inexpensive ways of viewing whole neighbourhoods.

Benefits of drones in real estate.
A shot of how close my friends house is to beaches and Lord Howe Island’s famous Gower

In the past to get aerial photos of the property you needed to pay a significant amount of money to a helicopter pilot who would take a photographer above your property to capture photographs.

Technology has enabled it to become significantly less expensive than in the past.

The great thing about drones is that it is an inexpensive way of viewing the property in relation to the entire neighbourhood. For example, if you want to show that a house is very close to the beach a simple drone shot panning up from the property can display that dramatically and tell the story of the listing better than any sentence can.

Drones are allowed to fly at a height of approximately 200 m this enables you to capture the house in its setting whether or not it is in a neighbourhood or completely surrounded by its own land. Going any higher than this needs permission from local authorities.

Can show:

Drones are able to show a significant number of details and points of interest about a property. In this section will go through some of the most important things that potential homebuyers are looking at in a property and how drones are able to answer their questions whilst also providing a little bit of excitement and interest with unique aerial vantage points.

Sun paths

Capturing the property during a number of different times in the day will enable people to see how the property changes throughout the day in terms of the sun’s path and the shadows it casts.

This is very important to a number of people – particularly gardeners – as it shows them what sort of ambience the house is likely to go through throughout the day. Tracking the sun paths from the morning through to the evening allows gardeners to plan where they would want to grow crops and other ornamental plants whilst also providing every potential buyer the opportunity to see how use sunlight would get into different parts of the house.

Nearby greenery

There is nothing quite like the contrast between houses and greenery. You are able to increase the lure of a property by using drone footage and videos which show the house completely emerged in greenery. You can selectively send the drone to angles that are not possible with conventional photos to capture the best contrast between architecture and nature.

By going up to the maximum height that a drone can fly you are also allowed to look straight down and you can have a look to see how the drone sits amongst greenery in the neighbourhood.

Distances to parks and schools

If your property is close to parks and schools, they drone image is pretty much the only way you are able to capture both the house and the park or school in the same photo.

Many people choose houses which their children will be able to benefit from open green space and nearby schools. Taking photographs and videos and simply overlaying a distance graphic will further drive home the point that the house is close to desirable amenities.

Aerial video tours

The photos and videos of the property can be combined so that you can provide potential buyers with an aerial tour of the property and its relationship to other points of interest.

You can even make this interactive by using virtual reality combined with drone footage. There are plenty of companies that are able to take your drone footage and video and incorporated into your property video tour. This is probably reserved for the higher end of the property market but still something that will easily make you stand out!

Real estate marketing

One of the first things people think about when they are considering using drones in real estate is the ability to create incredible marketing material.

Benefits of drones in real estate.
A photo I took of my friends house in Adelaide

It isn’t just word-of-mouth and subjective consumer reports that back this up. An Australian real estate group reported seeing a 403 % boost in traffic for listings that included video as compared to listings without.

Because the majority of real estate listings are put on a multi-listing service where people browse through hundreds, if not thousands, of properties you need a way to stand out. Very few real estate agents are using drone footage to sell their houses.

Because drone footage and videos can be captured for a listing from US$200 there is a great return on investment should you be able to capture the attention of multiple buyers. It has also been shown that videos and drone footage not only increase the traffic but also provide the real estate agent with the ability to ask for a higher price and reduce the amount of time on market.

Both of these benefits result in more money in the real estate agent and the customer’s pocket.

Interactive content

The Internet has become a place where people expect to be able to interact with content. The advancement of superfast Internet allows people to interact with photos and videos. Gone are the days where we simply list videos for people to watch.

The great thing about drone technology is that you are easily able to capture a 360° panorama which can be viewed through virtual reality goggles or online using 360° panorama software. The interactive content increases the perceived value of the listing and is also another way to stand out of the crowd.

Get more customers

Attracting clients into your business is a significant issue for real estate agents. You have to you rely on long-term relationships with clients and a strong word of mouth to attract new clients. Your integrity and your perceived professionalism combined with the ability to get the best price for a house will be the main factors that drive new customer engagement.

Benefits of drones in real estate. My photo showing proximity to the beach
Showing how close my friends house is to the beach for a real estate listing – raw footage

By using drone technology you are able to attract new customers faster than others. A recent study by showed that 83% of home sellers prefer working with an agent who uses drones.

By advertising that you are a real estate agent who uses drone video and photos to sell a property could easily make you stand out because another study showed that only 9% of agents create listing videos using drones.

This disparity between customers wanting to work with an agent he uses drones and the number of agents actually using drone footage allows you to stand out in all of the best ways possible!

Go get those customers by giving them exactly what they want that no one else is giving them.

All this talk of drones and aerial footage may make you concerned about how much real estate drone footage costs. In the next section I’m sure you will be surprised at how little it actually costs to get some incredible footage of the property and increase the sale price.

How much does a real estate drone cost?

If you want to capture real estate drone footage you really have two options:

  • buy your own drone – drone technology is amazingly inexpensive and is getting cheaper. But there is so much more to it than simply flying a drone.
  • Hire a professional – hiring a professional means that not only will you be assured to get great drone footage but you will also conform to all of the local rules and regulations.

Let’s take a look at these options in more detail, below.

Buy your own drone

Firstly, you may want to consider buying your own drone for real estate purposes. If you want to know more about drone photography you should check out my two guides – drone photography for beginners [the complete guide] as well as the best drone for photography – click here.

Both of these guides will give you a complete rundown on the best way to step into the world of drones and photography.

But, I understand that for a range of people – especially busy real estate agents – that buying and operating and maintaining a drone is not feasible option.


The limitations of buying your own drone for real estate purposes include:

  • Licensing – there are a number of potential rules and regulations and licenses that you will need to understand and collect if you want to operate a drone for commercial purposes. You also have to keep up-to-date with the changes as they evolve over time.
  • Time requirements – not many real estate agents actually have the time to capture good real estate footage or photos. Not only do you have to invest time to build up your skills but you also have to spend at least one hour at the location to make sure that you capture all of the footage and photos that you need.
  • Skills – you will need to build up the skills required to not only pilots the drone effectively but also understand the basics of photography so that your photos give the best representation of the property. This takes time to understand and develop. If you want to do this as part of a hobby project then that would be personal development as well as work.
  • Cost – the cost for a drone can be prohibitive for some real estate agents and businesses. A reasonable, entry-level, drone at the consumer level will set you back about US$1000 up to US$3000. If you are using this regularly and you can see a return on your investment this will be a good purchase for you. However, if any of the other limitations apply – seek the help of a professional.

If you do not want to purchase your own drone hiring a professional is your best option. The good news is there are plenty of services and freelancers willing to work with you to capture the best views of your property.

Hire a professional

Hiring a professional can be done through a drone photography site or you can hire a freelancer photographer with a drone.

Benefits of drones in real estate.
Showing how close properties are to the beach in Semaphore, Adelaide.

When you are working with a professional you need to make sure that they have their license and that they are able to fly the drone in the area that the house or property is located. You should check for their portfolio of images and that they are abiding by all local laws and regulations by having the appropriate level of public liability insurance.

Cost of drone photography

The cost of drone photography can vary wildly but to give you an idea of a popular service here is what the breakdown of cost is from

Drone baseUS$149 – Pano package. 360 degree photoUS$199 – 15 high-resolution aerial photosUS$269 – 15 high-resolution aerial photos and five high definition video clipsUS$369 – 15 high-resolution aerial images, five high definition video clips, video with branding, captions, music and more.

I would say that this is in line with the majority of major drone pilots and photographers. This gets you up to one hour of flight time at your desired location.

Other drone photography services will also have different levels of services for you to choose from. Most of them will also custom design your service so you can get exactly what you want for your project.

Freelance pilot

Hiring a freelance pilot is going to be one of the cheapest ways that you can capture the photos and videos of your property.

A freelance pilot is likely going to cost anywhere between $150 per hour up to $500 per hour or $3000 – $5000 per day.

There is a little bit of a higher risk associated with using a single freelance pilot but doing your due diligence and checking their portfolio and asking for references will be one way that you can minimise that risk.


There are many incredible benefits of using drones for real estate. Not only does the drone footage enable you to attract more traffic to your listing but it also sets you out from the crowd as a real estate business or agent. There is a massive disparity between the people that want drone footage and the real estate agents that actually provide that service.

Providing incredible footage of a property is only the tip of the iceberg of the benefits and I am certain that if you were to incorporate drone footage and videos into your real estate business you will start to see returns on your investment in time or money.

The Author

Dr Andrew Stapleton is a Drone pilot, Writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. His drone footage has been featured on TV (ABC Documentary) and he has written and/or produced videos for Science Alert, COSMOS magazine, and Australia's Science Channel among others. He has been a drone pilot for many years and has flown many types of drones.