Drone use brings wow factor to listings

by Carlo Calma

What started as a hobby — flying small drones — has become an integral component of one real estate agent’s offerings to clients in the buying and selling process.

Fabio Brancati, broker with RE/MAX Professionals Select in Naperville, has utilized his background in technology as former vice president of business development for the software development company SAP to create immersive, 360-degree views of his brokerage’s listings using drone technology.

How it Works

In addition to employing a professional photographer to shoot 2D photos of the interior of homes, Brancati utilizes a special camera called Matterport that can scan and map spaces inside the home.

Once processed, the images can create 3D virtual tours of the home, which can then be viewed through special viewfinder goggles. The virtual tours, Brancati says, has streamlined the home selection process.

“Instead of taking [clients] to 20 to 30 houses, we show them six, seven houses in 15 minutes,” says Brancati.
Once homebuyers have narrowed down their search utilizing the 3D imagery, Brancati will then escort them to the home for an in-person walkthrough.

“[The technology] allows people different views, especially when you have very high-profile clients who don’t want to disclose what they’re buying; they can see the house without compromising their identity,” adds Brancati.

The Process

Shooting imagery using the drone and 3D camera has a lot of moving parts, according to Brancati.

Two pilots are required to take the aerial footage, one to pilot the drone and one called a “spotter or observer,” says Brancati. The drones “lock” into the center of a home as it canvases its surrounding area utilizing 4K, high-definition cameras.

“What we do, sometimes, if the house is close to a nice park or a nice forest preserve, or anything that is an amenity, we do what we call a ‘Circle 360,’” says Brancati. A Circle 360 captures the home’s surrounding attractions to the prospective buyer.

The technology has been utilized on all of the brokerage’s listings, according to Brancati, from rental properties to multi-million dollar listings.

An Added Value

The aerial footage and 3D virtual tours of listings has created an added value and a competitive edge to the firm’s selling process, according to Brancati.

“What I tell my clients, nowadays, [agents] fight for visibility,” says Brancati. “You have to think outside the box because … if you perform very well with your clients, your clients will refer you to five, six, seven people.”

“In terms of giving a selection and buyers watching for homes they love, this is a tremendous change,” he adds. “Now, more buyers have the ability to select the homes they love and our job is to be the [trustworthy] advisor.”

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