Local realtor uses drone-type device to help sell homes

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by Kristine Harrington

azfamily.com

Posted on May 12, 2014 at 1:50 PM

Updated Monday, May 12 at 2:23 PM

GILBERT, Ariz. -- It's a sign of the times: using drone-type devices to sell homes. The drone craze is making its way into real estate, and is being used by local agents as a marketing tool to get ahead.

East Valley Realtor Todd Mittness uses his privately-owned Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) as part of his selling strategy.

Technology has changed the way homes are sold, and the way people interact and shop. Todd feels the use of UAVs to sell real estate is the future.

"You're going to be able to show the house from a perspective that nobody else has really seen before," he says.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) appear similar to drones, but have some major differences. UAVs are actively piloted by a human on the ground, within sight of the operator. However, drones fly a course or route without direct human interaction.

Even so,  a newer version of Todd's UAV can now fly an autonomous route using Google Maps. It's done with hardware and software updates, so from the outside, you can't tell the difference.

UAV use in Arizona real estate is very rare. Out of close to 30,000 homes currently listed for sale in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), Todd is aware of only 20 using UAVs in property videos; with 18 of
the 20 listed over $1 million.

Todd purchased his UAV in 2012, spending north of $3,000. He says the investment is already paying off.

Many owners welcome the technology. "You're able to get a better idea what the community is like instead of just looking at a one-dimensional shot," says Gilbert homeowner Bill Evans.

Todd's UAV is equipped with a brush-less video gimbal, attached underneath the UAV for stability. A GoPro high definition video camera is attached to the gimbal. "The wind can bounce my UAV all over the place, and the video remains rock steady," Todd explained.

When asked why more Realtors don't use UAVs, Todd's response was surprising, "I honestly don't think it's an FAA regulation issue, but rather an expense, time, and effort issue for Agents. It's a huge undertaking, and many Agents don't want to make the time, or spend the money. As far as the FFA, their guidelines state that UAVs are not to be used commercially. I don't charge directly for the UAV, it's simple part of my larger marketing package. Safety is my primary concern."

The FAA is due to update its regulations on the commercial use of UAVs sometime in 2015.

For examples of Todd's UAV in action, visit www.mittnessrealty.com.

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