Ready to Hire a Drone Pro? Here’s Your Checklist

Jeremy Spann
Owner, Home Drone Films


You worked hard to become a professional real estate agent. You made a name for yourself. You hustled. You built your business. Now you’ve got some great listings, and you deserve photos that work just as hard as you do.

Photography is all-important in today’s real estate market. With so many buyers searching online and so many sources of listings, you can only control so much. Fortunately, photography is something you can control. Today’s buyer wants to see themselves in your property, and almost nothing does that better online than aerial drone photos and videos.

With the right house in the right neighborhood, the sky’s the limit. With drone photography, you can show potential buyers the neighborhood, taking them on a walk downtown or to the park. Of course, drone photography is a natural fit for luxury homes with sweeping landscapes, but it can also show off a $200,000 home that’s very similar to others in its subdivision. Drone photography sets a home apart from surrounding properties by allowing viewers to see things from perspectives that they otherwise wouldn’t.

MLS statistics report that homes with aerial images sell 68 percent faster than those without. So it’s probably good to know that drone photography services are both easier to arrange and more cost-effective than ever before. Many packages start at under $500 and include a video and a certain number of carefully composed still shots. Monthly subscription plans are also an option, and not a bad one if they help you increase your rate of sale accordingly.

Finding the Right Photographer

There are a host of things to consider when hiring your first drone operator. Begin your search by talking to colleagues or checking out other agents’ websites to find photography you like. Other places to look include Facebook and Instagram, where you’ll find posts from photographers eager to show their work. Just search for “real estate drones,” and be sure to include your location.


Make sure your drone has obstacle avoidance. An obstacle avoidance sensor system won’t stop you from running your drone into things, but it lessens the likelihood of you completely crashing it.

Practice in open areas. Make sure you really get the hang of flying before you go into a city and try to shoot something in a congested area.

Learn how to edit pictures. Pictures taken straight from the drone don’t always look that great. There are lots of things you can do in post-processing and editing to liven up a shot.

Shoot at the right time of day. Evening and just before sunset are great. In the morning, you can shoot with good light until late morning. After that, stop until evening. Don’t ever shoot anything in the middle of the day; the sun is so harsh on everything that you end up with really bright highlights and really dark shadows.

You should also consider the following questions in your search for a drone photographer.

  1. Are they photographers? It’s important to understand that images of the type that help sell homes aren’t just run-of-the-mill shots: they’re carefully crafted by a photographer who also happens to be a drone operator. An experienced photographer knows what time of day to shoot, how to best frame your property, and much more. Someone who knows drones but not photography may not be who you’re looking for.
  2. Do they have experience? If you’re in the market for a pro, beware of amateurs trying to get into the business. You need to make sure your photographer knows his or her stuff. Look at their portfolio to see if their work is substantial. And a drone photographer definitely needs to have some skill with drones.
  3. Do they have referrals? Reach out to other agents for firsthand details about their experience with the professional. Were they on time? Was it pleasant to work with them? Most of all, did the professional deliver what was expected?
  4. Do you like their work? Review their portfolio and see if you like it. Is that how you want your marketing to look? If you look at someone’s pictures and want to see more, that’s a good sign you should hire them.
  5. Are they licensed? Be completely sure your prospective contractor is licensed. Someone who’s licensed with the FAA knows what they’re doing. This is important for both legal and safety reasons.