Posted by Rapti Gupta on May 16, 2014 04:48 AM EDT

Drones: Aerial photos the latest real estate marketing tool

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(an unrelated picture of a drone is seen here) Drones and aerial photos: The glamour of real estate (Photo : Reuters)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has long been a topic of great interest. As scientists strive to make breakthroughs in the segment, an already existing form of AI is taking over the real estate market.

Welcome the Drones - an unmanned flying object which can be controlled via a remote. These remote-controlled robots are generally used for activities that are either too dangerous or dirty for a manned aircraft. But of late, as drones have become easily available and affordable, listing agents are using the mini aircrafts to take aerial photos of homes and use them in listing, to boost sales.

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Agents say drones help create the "wow factor" that customers are looking for these days.

"A buyer today wants to see a stunning Hollywood trailer-like experience," said Robert McArtor, a realtor with Re/Max Components in Fallston, who uses a GoPro camera on a quadcopter drone to take aerial photos of his homes, to the Baltimore Sun.

But that's not all. Drones also help market large properties like ranches easily. Touring a multiple-acre parcel would take days but through drones, one can instantly view aerial pictures of the entire expanse in minutes.

"If I can get an aerial photo of a ranch or other piece of property out in Spring Green, or of a beautiful house on Lake Mendota, I can provide angles and other details for potential buyers to see that you just can't get otherwise," said Trey Sprinkman, a Dane County agent who offers drone photography and videos to his clients, to the Wisconsin State Journal.

"It's an incredible way to showcase larger properties with nice views - like waterfront and golf course homes," said John O'Flaherty, an agent with Keller Williams in Fort Lauderdale, to the Business Journal.

 "At this point, it's unique and it makes people pause and say, 'Wow, I need to check this out'," he added.

But using a drone is not just difficult but is also illegal (for business purposes). The Federal Aviation Administration has banned flying drones for commercial purposes, but allows the activity to be carried on as a hobby. People are allowed to fly drones only up to 400 feet in the air.

Drones have become an industry and the FAA realizes the importance of safety regulations for the sector. The FAA's ban is temporary as it is still writing rules for drone usage. According to the Baltimore Sun, the FAA estimates that by 2016, 7,500 drones will be granted licenses and about 160,000 units will be sold by 2020. Real estate will reportedly account for 10 percent of the sales.

Nevertheless, the real estate industry is eager about using the technology. The National Association of Realtors has already sent a letter to the FAA on the concern.

In the era of technology the whole experience of pitching a house to prospective buyers has taken a completely different angle. Old school solicited home tours are gone; open houses hardly see any crowd. It is now the ear of the internet. Virtual tours, staged home videos, mini-movies and listing photos have taken the front seat.

"It's great, especially if you are trying to market a property that is unique, captivate an audience and convey that it has a lot of benefits," said Carmen Miranda, a Realtor with Alain Pinel in Burlingame, to SF Gate.

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