Everybody wants a drone these days. Farmers want to monitor their land without driving all over kingdom come, news agencies want to cover natural disasters without imperiling journalists, movie directors want that aerial money-shot, and commercial enterprises like Amazon are eager to make a (financial) killing with air delivery.
Unmanned aerial vehicles are set to be big business, and the possible uses for real estate agents are just as exciting.
Realtors are already using drones for virtual walkthroughs of buildings. They’re also shooting aerial footage of sales homes and neighbourhoods. As this area is still new, drone-shot footage has an immediate ‘wow factor’ and easily attracts clicks, thereby boosting the customer base. Brokerages can also use drones to explore areas for vacant sites and buildings ripe for redevelopment.
The cost of drones makes it a viable purchase for any interested person. A small smart-phone controlled rover can go for as little as $100, and a fully flight-capable, camera-equipped drone for under $1000. But if you’re flush with cash then why not swing for a top-of-the-range, mini helicopter with high-res camera for $200,000?
However, it’s not all warm currents and blue skies. Before you race out to buy your very own drone, there are some keys things to be aware of:
- The current guidelines say amateur drone users can only fly their devices by day, and within physical sight of the operator.
- Operators are prohibited from flying drones within nine kilometres of any aircraft flight paths, built up area, heliport or aerodrome, and must keep their drones within 90 metres of the ground.
- Larger drones (over 35kg) or drones with a commercial purpose can only be flown with a special flight operations certificate from Transport Canada. The operator must provide details of the purpose of the operation, the altitudes and routes they plan to use, and show there are no hazards to people or property.
- The application process can take up to 20 business days so apply early.
- Although Transport Canada is playing catch-up and still relying on guidelines originally crafted for model aircraft, it is hard at work developing more precise regulations for drones. Expect the regulation of drones to be beefed up soon.
- Use caution as your byword when it comes to drones. Photographer, Julien Gramigna was fined $1,000 by Transport Canada in December 2014 after using a drone to take pictures of a house for a real estate agent.