Real estate agent’s drone offers bird’s-eye view

Machine works well for high-end properties, Realtor says

Mark Monge believes using drones to take photographs of homes for sale will catch on with more real estate agents. He has been using his drone to photograph property for several weeks and says he is getting inquiries from several other real estate agents. Enlarge photo

Ron Johnson/Journal Star

Mark Monge believes using drones to take photographs of homes for sale will catch on with more real estate agents. He has been using his drone to photograph property for several weeks and says he is getting inquiries from several other real estate agents.

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) – Real estate agent Mark Monge has found a new way to add a lift to his house pictures: He’s using a drone.

Monge, who sells homes with wife Jennifer for Jim Maloof Realtor in Peoria, recently acquired the DJI Phantom II model.

“We have a lot of properties for sale that have amazing settings, and the traditional way of showcasing the homes with a photo was missing the mark,” Monge said. “The ideal way to show off the property was with an aerial photo, which in most cases, was cost-prohibitive.

“A month ago, I heard of some technology coming out that utilized remote-control drones for taking photos and videos,” said Monge, who paid $1,400 to acquire the machine.

When the remote control arrived, the real estate agent, who’s sold homes for 20 years, didn’t waste any time putting it to use.

“Every time I’ve gotten out of the car to fire this gizmo up, it has turned heads and sparked a lot of curiosity,” said Monge, who excitedly points to what his quad-copter can do.

“This thing can remotely go 30 mph, fly 1,000 feet in the air with a half-mile radius,” he said, working the joystick that controls the device.

“The feedback from our clients and other Realtors in just the last few days has been overwhelming. Other Realtors were calling to ask how I got the shots I did,” said Monge, who expects the aerial views to catch on.

“I think this is going to be a game changer for how homes are marketed around here,” he said.

The drone’s-eye view is especially beneficial when it comes to showing high-end homes on large lots as well as giving potential buyers a good look at the immediate neighborhood, Monge said.

As for restrictions, he said he limits the drone’s use to homes that he and his wife are selling.

“You’re not supposed to use it near power lines, and you can’t shoot it into an airport zone or it bounces back,” he said.

The Federal Aviation Administration has banned the commercial use of drones without special permission, but a recent federal court decision maintained that the FAA can’t regulate commercial drone activity.

The Associated Press reported that the FAA is appealing the decision while working on new regulations to cover drones. Congress recently called for the FAA to devise a plan to mandate unmanned aircraft by September 2015.

Meanwhile, drone photography to sell homes is catching on around the country. A real estate agent has been using drone photography in Naperville, Illinois, while reports of drone use have come in from New York to New Mexico.

The New York Times reported that a drone video of a $7.6 million beach house in Darien, Connecticut, posted on the Halstead Property website, received more than 500,000 views.

As for Monge, he’s planning to use more drone videos, not just of individual homes but of subdivisions where he and his wife are selling homes.

He also looks to use the drone to provide interior shots.

“I’ll fly down to the front door and walk it through the house, going room to room. Then I’ll fly it out the back door,” Monge said.