Drones in Commercial Real Estate Marketing

As the world becomes increasingly digitized and connected, technology continues to revolutionize industries, reshape conventions, and offer us new ways of seeing things – quite literally. One piece of technology that’s taken the commercial real estate industry by storm is the humble drone.

In our latest blog post, “The Role of Drones in Commercial Real Estate Marketing”, we’re going to take a sky-high view of this unfolding trend. Drones, once considered novelty gadgets, are now becoming essential marketing tools transforming both the approach and efficacy of commercial property promotions.

While traditional real estate advertisements typically feature photographs of a property’s interior and exterior, the incorporation of drone technology can significantly enhance the scope of the presentation. Drones empower marketers to incorporate video clips showcasing the surrounding landscape, immediate neighborhood, property boundaries, access routes, and other key features of the property.

Key Takeaways

  • Their ability to capture aerial views and provide interactive property tours offers a distinct competitive advantage in showcasing commercial properties.
  • While drones offer a unique selling proposition, there are initial investments, potential hidden costs, and legal guidelines that must be adhered to.
  • As drone technology continues to evolve, its application in commercial real estate marketing will only expand, making it an essential tool for realtors and property developers.
Drones in Commercial Real Estate Marketing

Rise of Drone Technology in Real Estate

Innovation continues to transform industries across the globe, and the real estate sector is no exception. One technology that has risen to prominence and reshaped property marketing tactics in recent years is drone technology.

Historical Context

Drone technology, although not a new invention, has evolved significantly in the past decade. Its use in various industries, particularly real estate, started becoming noticeably widespread around 2010.

Early drone models were primarily used by the military for surveillance purposes. The drones of today, however, are much more advanced, boasting high-resolution cameras, advanced flight controls, and even AI capabilities.

It wasn’t until the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) loosened its restrictions for commercial drone use in 2016 that we began to see drones skyrocket in the real estate domain. Today, drones are instrumental in capturing aerial views, 3D mapping, and virtual tours that can truly highlight the unique selling points of a property.

Current Trends and Statistics

The utilization of drones in the real estate industry has been showing a steady ascent. According to MarketWatch, the market for drones in real estate was valued at $1.3 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $2.8 billion by 2026.

Interestingly, commercial properties have become the major benefactor of drone usage. National Association of Realtors reports that commercial drone use outpaced residential use in 2020, with 44% of realtors using drones for commercial purposes.

From providing a bird’s eye view of vast commercial properties to an immersive virtual tour for potential overseas investors, the role drones play in commercial real estate marketing is expanding rapidly. As such, adapting to these evolving trends can be pivotal for those wishing to stay ahead in this competitive market.

The rise of drone technology is reinventing the ways we market and perceive properties. As the drone-enabled property marketing skies soar to greater heights, real estate professionals must adapt and harness this technology to its highest potential.

Benefits of Using Drones in Commercial Real Estate Marketing

The rapid integration of drone technology into the commercial real estate sector offers property marketers a host of innovative and efficient methods to promote and assess properties. Let’s dive deeper into the key benefits of using drones in commercial real estate marketing:

Capturing Aerial Views

Gone are the days when marketers relied solely on traditional photography to showcase properties. Drones, equipped with high-resolution cameras, can capture stunning aerial views, providing both detailed and overall perspectives of a property. This visual impact can highlight unique features, such as landscaping, vistas, and surrounding amenities that would otherwise be challenging to showcase from ground level.

Aerial imagery has been proven to make a significant impact on potential investors. In fact, properties utilizing drone photography can sell up to 68% faster than those without, emphasizing its importance in commercial real estate marketing.

Providing Interactive Property Tours

Virtual tours have become increasingly popular in the era of digital marketing, but drones take this experience a step further. By creating seamless, interactive, and immersive property tours, drone technology can offer a captivating and engaging experience for potential buyers or tenants].

This interactive technology not only saves time for both marketers and investors, but also allows buyers to explore properties remotely, thus expanding the reach of your property marketing to a global audience.

Mapping and Land Analysis

Drones serve a dual purpose in commercial real estate marketing by contributing to mapping and land analysis]. Equipped with advanced imaging systems such as LiDAR, drones can generate accurate 3D maps, helping marketers and developers visualize and plan for property improvements or new construction projects.

Moreover, drones can assist in land surveying and analysis of environmental factors, providing valuable information to inform marketing strategies and potential property valuations.

The use of drones in commercial real estate marketing has transformed the way properties are presented, explored, and analyzed. By adopting drone technology, property marketers can better capture unique property features, create immersive experiences for potential investors, and leverage detailed data to bolster their marketing efforts.

Cost Implications

While the benefits of using drones in commercial real estate marketing are clear, it’s essential to examine the cost implications associated with their adoption. In this section, we’ll delve into the initial investment in drone technology, the returns on investment, and any hidden costs and maintenance concerns.

Initial Investment in Drone Technology

The cost of incorporating drones into commercial real estate marketing depends on several factors, including the type of drone and its features. A quality drone with a high-resolution camera, capable of capturing aerial images and videos, can range from $500 to $5,000. While this may seem like a significant investment, the visual impact and marketing benefits of drone-acquired content offer a unique competitive edge in marketing campaigns.

Depending on local regulations, operating a drone for commercial purposes may also require obtaining a license or certification, which can add to the initial costs.

Return on Investment (ROI) Analysis

Though the upfront expenses for adopting drone technology might seem high, the subsequent return on investment can be substantial. Properties utilizing drone photography sell up to 68% faster than those without, yielding a faster return on investment for property marketers.

Furthermore, drone usage for virtual tours, land analysis, and mapping helps streamline processes and reduces costlier traditional methods, such as manned aircraft aerial photography or extensive onsite visits.

Hidden Costs and Maintenance

Apart from the initial investment and licensing fees, property marketers should consider potential hidden costs and maintenance for drone equipment.

Drone batteries, propellers, and accessories may need periodic replacement. Additionally, occasional software and firmware updates, repairs, or occasional component replacements may be required to keep the drone functioning optimally.

Lastly, insurance coverage for drone operations should be taken into account as well, providing protection against potential liability and damage incidents.

While there exists an initial investment in drone technology for commercial real estate marketing, the competitive edge, time savings, and marketing benefits that drones provide can quickly outweigh these costs. Factoring in these expenses, property marketers should evaluate the potential return on investment in the context of their overall marketing strategy.

Legal and Ethical Implications

As drones continue to revolutionize the landscape of commercial real estate marketing, it’s crucial to recognize the legal and ethical implications of their use. Below, we explore critical aspects including licensing requirements, privacy concerns, and drone flight restrictions.

Licensing Requirements

Operating a drone for commercial use in many countries, including the United States, requires a license or certification from aviation authorities. The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) drone certification, known as the Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate, ensures the operator understands and complies with the rules and regulations of commercial drone use. Failure to meet these licensing requirements can result in penalties, highlighting the importance of lawful drone operation.

Privacy Concerns

Drones have significantly expanded our ability to capture images and video from previously inaccessible viewpoints. However, this enhanced vantage point brings potential intrusions into others’ privacy. While this technology advances real estate marketing, it’s crucial to respect privacy laws.

In the U.S., for example, privacy regulations vary by state and usually develop alongside the increasing prevalence of drone usage. Therefore, real estate marketers need to stay aware of evolving legislation and ensure the images and footage taken do not invade the privacy of neighbors or bystanders.

Drone Flight Restrictions

Even with proper licensing, drone flight is not unrestricted. Regulations often include limitations on operation near airports, overpopulated areas, or at specific hours. Special permissions may be required to operate drones within restricted or controlled airspace.

The FAA’s B4UFLY app can be an invaluable tool for drone operators, providing real-time information about any areas where flight restrictions are temporarily or permanently in place.

All these considerations reaffirm the importance of conducting thorough research and abiding by all legal and ethical requirements when integrating drones into commercial real estate marketing. By doing so, marketers can harness the benefits of drone technology effectively, responsibly, and ethically.

Case Studies

Examining case studies is an excellent way to understand the real-world impacts of using drones in commercial real estate marketing. Here are a couple of situations where adopting drone technology yielded successful results, and the valuable lessons learned from them:

Case Study 1: The Transformation of Rhode Island Mall

One notable success story involves the use of drone technology in marketing Rhode Island Mall The over 300,000 sq ft property was poised for significant redevelopment, and drone footage played a key role in showcasing the potential of this site to prospective tenants and investors.

Lessons Learned: The use of drone-captured footage allowed for an effective presentation of the property’s sprawling footprint and potential for redevelopment. It clearly highlighted the role of drone technology in visualizing redeveloped areas before any physical changes.

Case Study 2: Commercial Property in Duluth, Minnesota

A commercial property in Duluth, Minnesota, sat on the market for six months without attracting any serious buyers. However, things changed when the marketing team utilized drone footage to capture the property’s waterfront views and surroundings, underlining the property’s appeal.

Lessons Learned: The views captured by the drone emphasized the surroundings and unique features of the property that were hard to express through conventional marketing methods. Ultimately, this led to a quick sale of the property and highlighted that drone imagery can dramatically change a potential buyer’s perspective and appreciation of a property.

These case studies underscore the game-changing potential of drone technology for commercial real estate marketing. They illustrate how drones can highlight unique property features, provide a unique perspective to potential buyers, and ultimately, expedite the sales process.

Future Prospects

As the drone technology landscape continues to evolve, it is poised to further enhance the field of real estate marketing. Here, we explore innovations in drone technology and expanding use cases in the real estate industry.

Innovations in Drone Technology

  1. AI-Powered Autonomous Navigation: With the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), drones are becoming increasingly autonomous. This could result in more efficient flight paths, easier data collection, and the ability to produce dynamic aerial content with minimal human intervention.
  2. Improved Battery Life: Advancements in battery technology are extending flight times, allowing for more extensive and in-depth aerial footage of properties. This will enable real estate marketers to explore more comprehensive marketing and inspection capabilities without swapping batteries frequently.
  3. Increased Payload Capacity: The development of heavier lifting capabilities will enable drones to carry higher-resolution imaging systems and additional equipment, such as Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensors. This could allow for more detailed property mapping and potentially revolutionize the way properties are presented and analyzed.

Expanding Use Cases in Real Estate

  1. Infrastructure Inspection: Drones can be utilized for inspecting roofs, facades, and other hard-to-reach areas of buildings, saving time and reducing the need for manual inspection. This can aid developers in evaluating a property’s condition and determining any maintenance requirements.
  2. Geospatial Analysis and 3D Modeling: As drones become more capable of carrying high-resolution imaging systems, they can capture images and data that can be used to develop accurate 3D models and perform geospatial analysis. This can enhance marketing campaigns by creating immersive virtual tours or conducting sophisticated site analyses to assist developers and investors in making informed decisions.
  3. Land Surveying: The use of drones for land surveying is becoming a cost-effective, efficient, and accurate solution that can replace traditional surveying methods. Beyond marketing purposes, this advancement has the potential to improve essential aspects of property development, such as site selection, planning, and construction.

Be sure to read the informative article I authored on “Tech-Driven Strategies for Industrial Real Estate Management,” which provides vital insights for those involved in the commercial real estate (CRE) sector. In this piece, you will discover the importance of adopting technology-driven approaches to optimize your industrial real estate operations. Check out the full article here.

Drones in Commercial Real Estate Marketing

Drones in Commercial Real Estate Marketing FAQs

How have drones revolutionized real estate marketing?

The ingenuity of aerial shots and visual content has sparked the curiosity and interest of many people alike. Realtors can use this to their benefit to draw in more customers. Listings have found a new outlet for marketing in the form of drone imagery, 3D models, mapping, and more.

What are the primary benefits of using drones in property showcasing?

If you have the right operators, it can show off the interior in a unique and aesthetically pleasing way. A tour of the interior of the commercial property will show off the house in a way that a videographer armed with a camera simply can’t.

Are there any legal restrictions when using drones for commercial purposes?

Commercial operators must hold a current drone Pilot Certificate issued by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), and each drone must also be registered with the FAA on the FAADroneZone website. Unmanned aerial vehicles are illegal without this.

How expensive is it to incorporate drone footage in marketing materials?

As a general rule of thumb we budgeting, drone video will cost between $250 and $350 per hour. 

What types of commercial properties can benefit most from drone footage?

It can also be used for hotels, office buildings, vacant commercial land, multifamily housing, and other types of commercial real estate. How can you use drones for marketing your commercial properties? Create real estate drone videos that highlight unique property details and the surrounding area.


Drones have proven to be an invaluable tool in the realm of commercial real estate marketing. From capturing stunning visuals to enhancing property inspections, drones have transformed the way properties are presented, analyzed, and eventually sold. As innovations and developments continue to push the boundaries of drone technology, the real estate industry stands to benefit immensely from adopting these advancements and adapting to expanding use cases.

If you’re ready to elevate your commercial real estate marketing strategies, don’t hesitate to harness the power of drone technology. Call me or schedule a free consultation today, and let me, one of the best real estate agents, who has the heart guide you through how our tailored drone solutions can give your property listings a competitive edge.

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