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UAVs to sell homes? Some realtors are in on the game

July 9, 2014, Edmonton - It is a flyer’s market in Fort McMurray. To help boost housing sales and differentiate itself from competitors, an enterprising real estate agent has begun employing a drone to take aerial photos.


July 9, 2014
By The Edmonton Journal

“There are a lot of great Realtors out there doing a lot of amazing
things and there is only a (finite) number of listings,” says Tom
Albrecht, who launched a real-estate firm called The A-Team in April
along with his wife, Breanna. “Our goal is to be creative and try to get
as much attention as we can.

 

“It’s a gimmick and people like it, but it also sells houses. It’s double-edged for us, and good on both counts.”

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The Albrechts received permission from Transport Canada last month,
joining Darrell Hall of Edmonton among only three real estate agents in
Western Canada licensed to use the technology. Breanna flies the device,
which is slightly larger than a Frisbee and looks like a
remote-controlled helicopter, while her husband keeps an eye out for
obstructions.

 

The total cost to them was about $2,000 — not too
steep in a community where approximately 175 single-family detached
houses sold in the first five months of 2014 at an average price of
$750,000. Mid-year figures released for Edmonton on Thursday showed
sales of all types of residential properties were up nearly 10 per cent
over the same period last year, with the average price of a
single-family home $435,534.

 

“Fort McMurray is a market that is
maturing when it comes to both home sales and agents,” says Albrecht, a
Brit who began selling real estate in Fort McMurray 2-1/2 years ago
after receiving a master’s degree in economics from Oxford University.
“As members of the new guard it is our job to apply new technology and
offer more for less, which is what we are doing.”

 

Greg Steele,
president of the Realtors Association of Edmonton, says agents are
becoming more industrious through competition. Some local brokers are
illuminating for-sale signs with solar-powered LED lights; he uses
reflective tape to make his more visible.

 

“When a headlight hits them, they light up like Christmas trees,” Steele says.

 

In
recent years, other realtors have taken to cherry pickers to shoot
overhead photos, which is now being taken one step further by employing
drones.

 

“It’s a trend and it is kind of cool,” Steele says.

 

It
took the Albrechts several months to get a permit for theirs from
Transport Canada, and the couple is only allowed it after posting signs
and warning neighbours. They also must carry a fire extinguisher and
first aid kit when it is in use.

 

Transport Canada fines unauthorized users $25,000.

“I
enjoy the exposure this creates, but it’s not a hobby for us, it’s a
serious business,” he says. “We’re not here to satisfy our clients,
we’re here to blow their minds.”