Curt Walton's DJI Phantom 2 zipped this way and that, up and down and around corners of the sleek hillside property that recently listed here for $4 million. Equipped with an HD video camera, the copter dipped and hovered like a hummingbird at the top of a row of silvery olive trees. Its whirling propellers emitted a steady buzz as it took off once again, swooping up to the heights where a pair of hawks circled behind it as the camera spun 180 degrees to capture the vistas clear across Silicon Valley.

Then Walton brought his drone home, snatching it out of the air as if catching a feather: "You feel like you're up there floating like a bird, floating with your camera," he said. "I get a little dizzy."

Drone photography is growing fast in the real estate industry, fueling a new form of digital advertising for agents and sellers. And while the trend is national, the tech-obsessed Bay Area may well be its ground zero as agents try to stand out from the competition in a famously hot market.

"It gives them a leg up," said Walton, who uses his remote-controlled flying machines to shoot the cool videos that prospective buyers have come to expect — the tech types and foreign investors who won't make a move toward purchasing a house without first inspecting it online.

"People are buying multimillion-dollar homes, and the drone establishes the lifestyle of the property," said Darrell Monda, president of TourFactory Bay Area, which has produced about 500 drone videos in the past year, including many by Walton. "Most of my guys, my photographers, have drones. They keep them in their trunks, at the ready."

The day after the Saratoga shoot, he and filming partner Mike McClellan found themselves shooting a 7,000-square-foot house on 60 acres, listed by J. Rockliff Realtors agent Douglas Manful for $12.5 million. With more space and fewer concerns about disturbing neighbors, they pulled out the stops: a DJI S900 drone, many times the size of the Phantom. Tricked out, it costs about $8,000 and allows Walton and his partner to "get shots that are more artistic and cinemagraphic."


"Real estate agents are seeing the value of having this eye in the sky, especially for high-end properties," said Tom McMahon, a spokesman for the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, a trade group.

In Saratoga, listing agent Rosa Bencuya, who works for Alain Pinel, followed Walton's drone around the outside of the house, from level to level and deck to deck, filming its flight with her iPhone.

She was fascinated: "This is my first drone!" she exclaimed, as if attending an initiation rite.

A former stained-glass artist who helped with the designs for Euro Disney, Walton said the drone is "just a tool." Yet he seemed fascinated, too, even though this was his seventh or eighth job of the week; he had lost count.

Arriving for the morning shoot, Walton had immediately sized up the house: "You kind of do a storyboard in your mind," he said, listing the elements: angles and elevations, splashes of color, the dramatic effects of water. Now he did a slow pan with his drone, backing it away from the waterfall in the swimming pool. Moments later, he took the drone up and around a big stately oak.

"Look at that," he said. "I'm just letting it float. You get this ethereal look of doing it from the heavens, from out of the sky.

"The whole idea is to make something look beautiful."

Source : http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/sc-housing-0421-drones-consumer-20160421-story.html

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-Is Drone photography taking off in real estate in Malaysia?


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