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Some Recent Stats about the Benefits of Drone Video on Real Estate Sales

Published: 05/07/2018
By: larry

Here are some recent stats on the benefits of using drone video in an article on

According to MLS statistics, homes with aerial images sold 68 percent faster than homes with standard images. Video tours that incorporate drone footage are also a great way to make your property stand out and to attract new listings. According to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), 73 percent of homeowners say that they are more likely to list with a real estate agent who uses video to market their home; however, only 9 percent of agents create listing videos. An Australian real estate group reported seeing a 403 percent increase in traffic for listings that included video as compared to listings without.

The article has a lot of good stats that real estate photographers that offer drone services can use for your marketing materials.

13 comments on “Some Recent Stats about the Benefits of Drone Video on Real Estate Sales”

  1. You need to take these kinds of statistics very much with a grain of salt. As a Realtor, I can tell you that every statistic that comes out of NAR is designed to produce a specific impression in the mind of the reader. They know how to ask the right questions in the right way to get the answers they want. (Especially if it has to do with FSBOs...but that is a different topic)

    In this case, the “68% faster” statistic is designed to lead the reader to the conclusion of “you want your home to sell faster? Get some aerial photography”.

    But that is not what the statistic says. It just says that houses with drone photos sell faster. It does not say that the photos CAUSE it to sell faster. As people selling aerial photos...we want that to be the we are likely to take that ball and run with it.

    But here is the hard truth...

    It likely is the other way around.

    The houses that are going to sell quickly anyway...are the ones that get the aerial photography.

    Agents do this all the time. The do cell phone photos for regular listings and then, when they get THAT listing...they pay for photos. “That” listing is likely a better house where someone paid a check to stage it. The better photography is only partly to credit for any faster sale and in certain markets on certain properties...premium photos will not result in a faster sale or higher price. The market is crazy hot. There will be a bidding war either way and the best buyer is not going to pay more than their max bid just because better photos were taken.

    Same thing here. Better quality listings that are going to sell faster anyway get aerial photos. Think I am wrong!

    Well I just had an agent tell me, “You know Brian, you are right. Aerial photos do not help at all on some properties. But let me tell you...EVERYONE wants them on lakefront property. Do they can get that great shot from over the water looking at the house.”


    Here we have it. Lakefront property sells faster than regular property anyway. And it sells for more.

    So when your sample of “aerial photo enhanced” properties is pulled it is disproportionately stuffed full of waterfront properties. Properties that sell faster. Then you compare that to regular properties that do not seriously benefit from drone photos and thus do not get them and they sell slower on average.

    But the drone photo properties are not really selling faster because they have drone photos. Correlation does not imply causation. They are selling faster because more of them are on the water.

    But let’s not let these kinds of things stand in our way. I am sure everyone will use the statistic in their favor to get more aerial business. And do not feel bad. Seriously. Again, if you knew how Realtors use NAR statistics to convince FSBO sellers that they are foolish to sell without an agent and are doomed to leave money on the table for doing so....well...let’s just say that what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

  2. @ Brian, I agree with your points. I notice that most homes in my area with aerial photos (video would be a waste of money) have above average photos as well. This points at better marketing along with, maybe, homes that will sell faster than average regardless. It would be hard to get a disinterested and unbiased study to find out if aerial photos make a difference in sales or not. The bigger issue is if agents are demanding aerial photos as a condition of getting the jobs to photograph the home and if homeowners are demanding that agents include aerial photos in listings. My concern is whether agents are willing to pay a reasonable rate for the aerial photos. So far, they don't want to pay extra in my area and I'm not seeing a drop off in business for not currently offering it. The agents that do use aerial photos do it themselves (unlicensed) or hire unlicensed operators, manly teenagers that are operating at the hobby level. It's a little too hard to compete with an entity that doesn't have to earn a living or doesn't care about operating legally.

  3. Brian Kurtz - Brian, a perfect answer and comment. As. the saying goes, the only stats one can believe are those you create yourself. I take stats with a pinch of salt. It is exactly the same with reviews, be it for Product, Travel, Sales Platforms etc. I only view the negative comments because my experience has shown such positive ratings can be purchased, which in most cases are, via a "click" service from India, China or wherever. I wouldn't put it past some companies using their employees to give positive ratings " anonymously" .

  4. @Brian that is one of the most thoughtful, thought provoking replies I've read on this blog in 3 years. You've taken a semi-complex statistical process and laid it out there to be easily understood. Really well said. And I couldn't agree more about NAR's self-serving surveys.


    I'm just a guy selling photos. And, since brokers and their clients buy into those surveys, I include drone photography at *no additional charge* for all of my shoots. Why wouldn't I? Not only is the DJI P4 Pro+ my cheapest camera by a long shot, it's also the fastest one to use. I've included drone photos for over 2 years now. It's worked out pretty well - I charge significantly more than (the plentiful) local competition and I have more business than I can handle.

    Do I think photos of driveways and rooftops sell homes? Hell no!! But I'll pop it in the air to appease a client's seller that's been told; "my photographer has a drone". It takes about as much effort as a spare bedroom shot.

    Sometimes perception is the real reality.

  5. I agree with all above... now let me put my two cents worth in.

    Homes using professional photography and video and drones, at least in my case, are better prepared than all the other homes. It's a simple as that.

    Agent that are going to pay more money when they use me also use that as leverage with their clients. They go down the list of property prep I give them and let the client know "This is the way he requires the property prepared. He is very particular about it and he is the best...." That creates a compelling argument that the agent is actually spending money and doing their best. Now you have three people Agent, Owner and Photographer all on the same page (most of the time). That creates a property that people want to see and bid on.

    It's all of this working together it's not Drone video. Shot a drone video of a garbage dump, graveyard, cell towers, power lines, swamp etc. surrounding the property and no it won't sell faster. Good properties that have the appropriate marketing assets used in an appropriate manner sell faster than the garbage dump... Duhhhh.

    I agree the NAR has been pushing technology for technologies' sake because of lobbying by tech geeks for a very long time. They were even pushing those ball 360 degree cameras that are cheap and you throw up in the air. I know of several realtors in this area that were so excited to get them and they were going to use them. Really?

  6. A good question. And I agree that statistics can often be manipulated to prove almost anything. I am finding in my area market where property prices are all high from luxury to 2 bedroom 1.5 bathrooms, realtors want my video as well as stills for most but not all listings. I think this is less to sell the house as it is to gain the listings. But the videos also gain the attention of open listings for all the other realtors that will see the property site and/or MLS and then bring their clients to see it, not just the listing agent.

    And I am a little confused by the suggestion that drone video just shows dull roof tops and cell towers and power lines. Any competent drone photographer and videographer will do their best to not include anything that is a distraction and negative. If you can't then you don't shoot it with a drone or at minimum hide such things or disguise them. Same as we do with our camera sitting on the ground. I shoot drone video with almost all my client properties but avoid dull roof tops but include the roof tops that are interesting and thus part of the marketing points. I seldom shoot at high altitudes unless the view is also part of the marketing push. Like so many aspects of photography, its not the equipment you use but how you use it. Pick the tools that will best show the property, its views (if any), is grounds, pools, trees, kitchen garden, guest house, tennis court, groves, horse facilities and so on. If aerial views help achieve that, then use it, clearing the additional fees with the client in advance of course. But aerial video by itself is over used. I always shoot ground level video as well with slider or gimbal. The drone views just enhance the coverage if by using it you enhance the viewer's understanding of the property and if it adds to the marketing points the realtor is using to sell the property.

    Most of my flying is lower than 20 feet altitude for both stills and video. I just shot a twilight job the other evening and used the drone at about 10' to 20' high so I could shoot over hedges and fruit trees so we could actually see the house, it's deck, big patio window walls and out the other side. My light window of opportunity was about 10 minutes of magic hour light so rather than trying to move a pole around for different views or a 20' step ladder would have meant I would only get one or two shots. As it was I got about 25 different views, also thanks to having no wind, I was able to bracket the exposure for HDR use. Getting a bit higher, we could see where the house was located in the valley and catch the last licks of the setting sun painting the surrounds hills with golden light. These shots help arrest the attention of those who will be seeing the images, either stills or video or both, and get them to stop and look at the images.

    But that to me is what the photography is for; get the viewer to stop and look, just one of many tools the realtor uses to sell a property and gain listings. Then hopefully the viewer will seek more if what they see interests them, read a little bit which is getting harder and harder to get people to do, then find the realtor's phone number and call. But my first job is to get people to stop their browsing and if a strong aerial image does that, then that is what I will do. I see my job as not being a documentary photographer but being an advertising one. Strong images sell by being eye and attention getting. What equipment you use to do that is not important. Achieving it is.

  7. Thank you Brian Kurtz. I read the article and was going to reply but you've essentially said what I was going to say so you've just saved me heaps of time. As the saying goes, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

  8. Pure Snake oil. Zillow recently said that a home with a black front door will sell for $6,300 more! All of these kinds of stories do not take into consideration buyer and seller motivations. The claimed results can not be scientifically reproduced making it just marketing horse feathers.

  9. One point I haven't seen is how the images are presented to the buying public. I can't speak for anywhere else other than the Northwest Multiple Listing Service which covers the most populous region of Washington state. It would be interesting to know how other area MLS' handle Virtual Tour Links (or what ever you call your delivery method of video. Our MLS allows for up to 25 still images (which of course could include aerial stills). These images are available to the websites of all of the member real estate agencies of the NWMLS. The fields that are provided for external media (such as the media used to display video) however, are NOT sent to the reciprocating members of the NWMLS. Therefore, listings provided for public view DO NOT included video. Stills only are available to the public. Therefore, the only way the buying public will ever see the video productions is to search the websites that allow the public viewing of video. I refer to virtual tour providers and YouTube type sites. Maybe you are not an agent and do not understand this practice (even many agents do not understand this practice). So put yourself in the potential buyer's seat. You are going to look online for properties that fit your needs. You are probably going to search the websites of local real estate companies that carry every listing in the MLS (Broker Reciprocity). And how many listings are you going to find with video? Absolutely zero. The upside of this for agents (that know what they are doing) is that buyer's agents are able to search the actual MLS and have access to the links that include video (if it was used) and can send those links to prospective buyers. Everything has a use, but if you do not understand how the MLS' in your area handles these videos, you are just spinning your wheels. I see the primary use for video is to get listings (unless, of course, the agent actually explains to the seller how it works.

  10. Considering the source, I don't think there is anything necessarily suspect regarding the statistic about homes with aerial photography selling 68% faster, but it is just a bare fact that needs to be fully analyzed before it is possible to draw a conclusion. The fact does not necessarily mean that it is the aerials that are making the homes sell faster. It may just be that they are being used more in markets where homes are tending to sell faster anyway.

  11. Just want to point out that men are primarily left-brain dominant (analytical) whereas women are primarily right-brain dominant (artistic).
    David's post is typically left-brain dominant thinking... "but it is just a bare fact that needs to be fully analyzed before it is possible to draw a conclusion."
    Why not let the aerials take the home to new heights? (no pun intended) Don't try to over-analyze it.. fly with it. Instead of focusing on intent, try focusing on effect.
    Unfortunately, Brian, your post gave me a headache.

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