Unmanned aircraft allows Port Washington real estate agent to show prospective buyers their future dream homes from a whole new perspective
For the military, drones quietly gather intelligence and conduct stealthy attacks.
For companies such as Amazon, they could become the newest way to deliver packages.
For ranchers in the Southwest, theyâre used to find cattle grazing on massive tracts of land.
But for Tom Didier of Re/Max United in Port Washington, they are the newest addition to his arsenal of marketing tools.
Didier has been experimenting with a Parrot quadricopter drone, which he bought in January to take photographs of houses and land he is selling â primarily lakefront homes with expansive views.
âPeople want to see how the house relates to the view,â he said.
The drone, which comes with specialized hulls for indoor and outdoor use, is equipped with a high-definition video and still camera that has a wide-angle lens and can shoot 30 frames per second.
âItâs pretty cool,â Didier said.
Didier said he read about real estate agents in Miami using drones to capture videos and photos of oceanfront properties and was intrigued by the potential.
âIt just piqued my interest,â he said. âWe have all these tools available now. We may as well use them.
âI thought we could try this as an experiment. We have a nice lake, so I figured there are some similarities.â
A drone can offer unique views of a house, he said.
âA photographerâs not going to jump over the house and show you the views there,â Didier said. âA drone can.â
Didier purchased what he referred to as a starter drone for $500 and practiced indoors with it during the winter.
âYou really couldnât do much with it (outdoors) in winter because it was too windy and cold,â he said, noting more expensive drones can be flown in higher winds.
The drone, which is charged by plugging it into a wall socket, is controlled via a WiFi connection.
Didier uses his phone to control the drone, which can hover or move smoothly through the air, traveling as high as 60 feet â enough to travel over a house and into the back yard to capture the views.
Didier, who is a licensed pilot, said he thought that experience would give him an edge in piloting the drone.
âNot at all,â he said. âThese kids who play video games could probably walk in and fly it better.â
Photographs and videos are central to a real estate agentâs business, Didier said, noting their use has exploded since he started in the industry.
âWhen I started, we used to just take one picture of the front of a house,â he said. âThe next thing you know, we had pictures of the interior and exterior.â
Videos of the interior of a home, often taken as someone walks through the house, are becoming the norm today, Didier said.
âWith virtual tours and photographs, people can go into every single room,â he said, noting these Internet experiences are replacing traditional open houses.
Real estate agents today use Google Earth to show neighborhoods, he said.
âAs youâre flying down, you can see the neighborhood, see if youâre near schools or an industrial park,â Didier said.
Aerial photography can also be used for houses on larger lots, such as estates and hobby farms, to give a complete picture of whatâs there, he said.
But there are limitations to these tools, Didier said.
âIf you use Google Earth, it comes to a point where you canât get any closer,â he said, and a drone can bridge that gap.
Didier said he doesnât know of any other real estate agents in the area using drones, and heâs only used it for a couple listings so far. But thatâs likely to change as he gets more comfortable with the drone.
âI donât know if itâs a fad like talking houses or something thatâs here to stay,â Didier said. âIt might just be a fun marketing tool.â
Image information: Port Washington real estate agent Tom Didier of Re/Max United used his cell phone to direct a drone as it took photos of a house on Portâs Lake Michigan bluff last week.
Photo by Sam Arendt