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What Do You Charge To Shoot 1 to 3 minutes of UAV Video For Real Estate?

Published: 25/06/2015
Anthony recently asked the following:

I've searched here and the flickr group, but the answer to these questions still elude me. What is a reasonable rate for basic video? What is a reasonable rate for drone flights/photos?

We've done a poll for standard real estate video that is fairly recent but we've never done a poll for Drone video so let's do it now!

I expect this pricing will vary a great deal depending on the demand in your market as well as the complexity of the shoot.

[polldaddy poll=8941837]
Larry Lohrman

21 comments on “What Do You Charge To Shoot 1 to 3 minutes of UAV Video For Real Estate?”

  1. Anthony, you may want to approach this by asking what agents/offices in your area will pay as a first step. If you know what your costs are, you can do some very simple math to see if it's worthwhile to get into. I know in my area that agents don't place enough value in aerial photography for me to consider offering it when it's legal. (I'm not worried about the FAA, the county forbids it and actively pursues offenders.) Agent's that ask about aerial photos typically will offer $30 for several stills. That might be ok if it was in addition to a full photo package, but they just want the aerials for that price. A couple agents have told me that they would consider $50 an upper limit on what they might spend. Different areas will value aerials differently. Property price has little to do with it as well. There are homes in my area that list for several million, but that doesn't get the listing agents to pony up for professional photography. They still just use their tablets and cell phones. I can tell since they post lots of selfies from mirror reflections.

    Another issue is the low barrier to enter the market as a provider. Low-end copters with cheap cameras are everywhere. What premium service are you bringing to the marketplace over a couple of teenagers with no overhead expenses?

    Don't forget that depending on where you are, hiring a small plane and taking photos out of the window can be a very viable option. You can certainly carry a much better camera and lens(es).

  2. I don't think I would ever shoot a video that was entirely drone footage for 1-3 minutes. I'd find it kind of boring after about 30 seconds. I think it would be much more interesting to incorporate drone footage with other cinematic style footage of both the outside and inside for an overall understanding of the home. But only when drone footage would make sense like if the lot is really large, landscaped well, has a pool, or some other interesting exterior feature. Just having drone footage for the sake of it being drone footage isn't going to help sell a home. It needs to make sense. So, anyway, I would just use drone footage as a value added feature to my videography pricing and raise my pricing overall. I wouldn't charge differently for a video that doesn't include drones versus one that does.

  3. I couldn't carry my drone to my vehicle for $30 let alone shoot several stills. Depending on the location I can usually fetch $25-35 per image.

  4. When we engage a drone operator, it runs $200hr, with that hr as a minimum. So, it's kind of expensive for the 10-15seconds of footage we actually use. At the rate, the drone guy definitely has to have a day job, because there just aren't enough clients willing to pay for it.

    I'll probably buy a drone this month, figuring that since I'm already there shooting stills and video, it's just an additional task, rather then a specialized service, so I won't need to bill out drone time like he's forced to.

    This business succeeds on a very efficient use of time and resources. The budget has never been unlimited, or even generous.

    But, I'm a little surprised at what the addition of video and drone shots has done for my business. Instead of attracting more realtors, I'm getting calls for larger corporate properties, who have considerably bigger budgets to work with. The videos I've put out for real estate are getting seen by corporate people who are buying homes, and they can see the usefulness of the same material for their respective business's. But again, they aren't looking to piecemeal something together (drone guy, stills guy, video guy, edit guy). They are very interested in a turnkey media solution offered by one guy though. And, I didn't solicit any of them... they asked the realtors who's been shooting the video for them. 🙂 These short property videos have turned out to be 1-3 minute commercials for me too.

  5. First you need to factor additional costs:

    1) FAA exemption - you can't have a serious conversation about charging for drone operation until you have the appropriate FAA paperwork. Without it, you could be shut down at a moments notice, leaving a client high and dry, or have all your work product removed from the web. Imagine if you had 10 videos up for a client, and the FAA ordered you to remove them from the web. You could hire an attorney to fight them (not in your budget I would guess) or comply and refund the money paid to the angry customer who just lost their investment. Neither scenario is optimal, or professional. Get your exemption if you don't have it.

    2) Insurance -- These things can do a world of damage. Explore to what degree your current insurance covers you, and add riders as appropriate.

    3) Spare drone -- Most professional RE photographers carry backups because if the can't shoot, they can't eat. Same goes for a drone. Like they say in the army "2 is 1, and 1 is none".

    Now that you are legal and safe, and about $2000 poorer, whats that worth.

    Truthfully, probably about double your hourly rate for flight time, and back to your hourly rate for post and delivery.

  6. Drone cowboys are popping up everywhere. Sadly many are just that cowboys and have never had anything to do with photo or video, they just see an opportunity and go for it. I've seen drone videos where a drone is attempting to fly around entire house then is handheld to film the interior. These outfits are as usual hurting the professionals because they devalue the service in quality and price. Sadly many agents hire them because they don't know any better and have very low quality standards themselves but can brag that they use "drone" photography.

  7. Drones crash, I am unaware of any insurance company that will cover a drone for commercial use, perhaps they exist. Every single person I know who operates drones has crashed and wrecked them at least once.

    I would charge at least 300$ for 10 photos. I would start video at 1000-5000+$. I am in California, the market allows for these prices. Homes in the multi-million dollar allow for those prices.

    On a side note you can get a small helicopter chartered for ~300$/hour. No liability and you can knock out multiple homes on one flight.

  8. At PXL Media Studios, we charge $250 for a 1-3 minute video, shot and edited to completion, as long as it's within 100 miles of one of our 56 US locations. This includes up to 2 hours of shooting 4K video with drone outside and camera inside. Still photos run an additional $125 for a full 1 hour photo shoot and edited photos. We are FAA Licensed and Insured.

  9. I am interested in starting my real estate photo business, using drone technology. Is this a good business? How much can I expect to earn in one year?

    Thank You for your feedback!

    Steve McCormick

  10. We usually are shooting for the film industry and/or produce complete broadcast ready videos. But we do occasionally get asked to do something in our local area for drone shoots and only occasionally stills. But we charge a min of $250 an hour with a one hour minimum charge. Of course most out videos are 6k for a fully produced video. If all we were doing was going out and shooting some footage and doing an 2-3 minute edit with music bed, our charge would be between 500-750. That's because even with an hour drone shoot, we would still have a couple hours in editing. In general as I say, we decline requests for real estate vids simply because we that's not out niche.

  11. We are in the process of creating a directory for licensed and FAA Approved drone operators. So if you are a professional drone photographer looking to gain more business, or in real estate and wanting some aerial shots, bookmark our page!

  12. I'm currently in real estate and own equipment to shoot marketing photos as well as aerials with a drone, but to make money off of aerial shots with a drone an FAA license is needed? Does anyone know where to start?

  13. For "New Drone Owner" and other property/real estate agents looking to do their own work:

    In August 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration outlined rules that apply to flying an unmanned aircraft / "drone" for non-hobby or commercial use. Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 107 stipulates that in order to use your aircraft/drone for anything other than hobby purposes, you must hold a Remote Pilot license with a Small Unmanned Aircraft System rating. This even applies to promoting your own property or business, whether money exchanges hands or not. If you aren't just "flying for fun," the FAA says Part 107 applies to you.

    I highly recommend this link for your own research. The written test that is required to obtain this license must be taken every two years. It is essentially a very watered-down version of a Private Pilot written test with the addition of Part 107 rules. Hope this helps! Have fun shooting!

  14. Our drone real estate videos and shots are a little more tricky since we do ranches. If it's less than 200 ac or the way it is laid out there's not too many intricacies. However, on larger ranches where you are traveling on the property and whether the cattle, horses and livestock are reacting to the sound... a few more variables than if the house is clean. We usually will get together with the owner if we are unfamiliar with the layout before quoting a price.

  15. I charge $379 for up to two minutes of aerial real estate video.
    $479 for aerial Real estate video up to two minutes and 10 aerial photos.

  16. I'm so happy to see this discussion.
    1. Don't quit your day least seek other drone work like weddings etc. I've done all sorts.
    2. $550 for base price for drone film production: I take about 1 hour to fly. Fill a 16 to 32 gb card with 4K. For a 2 minute film (single family residential)
    3. $250 for base price for drone photo production 10 max ($25 per shot) I take about 2 hours to fly. Fill a 16 to 32 gb card with raw 4k...lovely shots.
    4. $750 for base price for the combo.

    "most of our realtors have their own drones or have friends with drones,"
    "ok, cool, do they have licenses from the FAA at all?"
    "yep, i'm pretty sure they do, and if they don't they've been working with these people for a long time, so, not likely to hire anyone else,"


  17. I CHARGE $279 FOR 10-20 AERIAL STILLS.

  18. RE: Dan B. (I couldn’t carry my drone to my vehicle for $30 let alone shoot several stills. Depending on the location I can usually fetch $25-35 per image.)

    Where are you located? We are seeking drone aerial stills and your price per image is within our range.