Unmanned drones taking real estate market to new heights
Published Tuesday, December 9, 2014 11:51AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, December 11, 2014 8:09AM EST
Canadian real estate agents are embracing drone technology to capture stunning aerial fly-over videos of the properties they have for sale.
Windsor, Ont. realtor Paul Rouillard recently introduced drone-recorded aerial videos to boost his business, and he says his customers love the bird's-eye view the drone provides.
"It's a completely different perspective,"Rouillard told CTV News Channel by Skype from Windsor on Tuesday. He said drone videos let his customers get "the lay of the land" by showing them where a given property is situated in the context of the whole neighbourhood.
"They can see the complete area, and they can see the entire property all around in a 360-degree view," he said.
Rouillard also flies the drones inside each property to offer a virtual walkthrough component for his customers.
The drone has allowed Rouillard to offer his customers a perspective he wouldn't otherwise be able to afford. Instead of spending thousands to hire a helicopter pilot and a photographer to shoot video, Rouillard is able to do it himself, whenever he wants.
Rouillard says he was inspired to integrate a drone into his real estate business from television. He says he was watching TV with his parents one day when they stumbled upon a documentary about a realtor using drones to sell real estate in California.
"No more than an hour later, we were on the Internet shopping for drones. We found the drone we wanted and it was delivered within the week," he said.
High-tech, relatively inexpensive drones have quickly flooded the commercial and recreational markets, bringing with them a wide range of benefits.
Drones can range in price from $100 for a smartphone-controlled rover to $200,000 for a heavy-duty unmanned aerial vehicle with a high-resolution camera.
While drones can vary widely in terms of price, features and quality, many electronics retailers in Canada sell fully flight-capable, camera-equipped drones for under $1,000. These drones can record and stream high definition video, and are controlled through free smartphone apps for Android or Apple iOS smartphones.
Higher-end hobbyist and commercial drones offer greater range, better video quality, faster flight speeds and more maneuverability.
But as drone operators continue to push the boundaries and uses of this new technology, Transport Canada has been struggling to regulate the issues that arise from their use.
Those issues include reports of drones flying dangerously close to restricted aircraft flight paths, and cases of people being recorded in compromising situations without their knowledge.
Transport Canada requires amateur drone users to fly their devices only by day and within physical sight of the operator. Operators are not allowed to fly their drones within nine kilometres of any aircraft flight paths, and must keep their drones within 90 metres of the ground.
Larger drones and drones meant for commercial purposes can only be flown with a permit from Transport Canada.
Rouillard says Transport Canada's latest guidelines have gone a long way toward regulating drone use, but he expects more laws will be required to address them in the future. "It's still very new," he said of the drone phenomenon. "We have to be very cautious with this."
But drones have been nothing but a boon for Rouillard's real estate business. He says his company recently received an offer from a Toronto couple on a home in Windsor, and the drone helped close the deal.
"They didn't even see the property and they wrote an offer on the property right away, just from the virtual tour," he said. "It ended up being sold a few days later."
Rouillard says it just shows how much drones are going to change the real estate market.
"Nobody needs to leave their living room," he said.