Those considering the purchase of Casa de Serenidad, a luxury estate built atop a hill in Redlands, can check it out remotely – via a video shot by a drone.
Real estate agents have begun using drones to capture compelling bird’s-eye views of high-end property.
Casa de Serenidad, listed for $2.2 million, teems with the sounds of nature. The grounds were so quiet Tuesday that chirping birds and a bubbling brook called to visitors in stereo: The quieter you become, the more you hear.
Val Dotchkov and his son Donnie Dotchkov, left, owners of Smart Aerial, have three drones they can use to record aerial shots of homes.
“It’s an exceptional property,” Perrie Mundy said as she hopped out of a Jeep to greet Val Dotchkov and his son Donnie. They’re the creators of a drone-centric video service offering the swooping eye-in-the-sky view.
“Look at these grounds,” Mundy said. “How else can you capture this, but from the air?”
Donnie Dotchkov, co-owner of Smart Aerial, makes adjustments to an aerial vehicle with an onboard camera rig. Dotchkov and his father use drones to take photos of multimillion-dollar homes.
Although the videos have been primarily filmed in coastal areas, listings for Inland Southern California that were filmed with drones are popping up with greater frequency. One video captures the beauty of an equestrian estate in San Timoteo Canyon.
“Before drones, I used helicopters – big ones, to take pictures of old estates,” said Mundy, owner of the Perrie Mundy Group of Redlands. “It’s fabulous, but the drone operator has to know what he’s doing.”
The Dotchkovs, co-owners of Smart Aerial, have been using drones to help real estate agents film exclusive properties listed on the market.
The Federal Aviation Administration would agree.
Drones have been used on a limited basis for national security, law enforcement and science. Flying unmanned aircraft systems for commercial use – it includes real estate marketing – has been granted by the FAA only on a case-by-case or waiver basis.
The Section 333 waivers are being granted as the FAA finalizes a set of federal rules for commercial use of unmanned aerial systems – drones – in national airspace, which is currently prohibited. The agency is pushing for the rules to be finalized in 2016.
Val Dotchkov and his son Donnie Dotchkov, right, of Smart Aerial, use their drones to help real estate brokers like Perrie Mundy and assistant Jeff Sutton, in background.
The FAA, meanwhile, has fielded more than 1,200 waiver applications. As of June 23, FAA regulators have granted 656 waivers to operators in the U.S. for limited use of drones to create marketing videos for commercial purposes.
Doug Trudeau, of Tierra Antigua Realty in Tucson, Ariz., was the first real estate professional to get a Section 333 exemption to create marketing videos for property listings.
The permit is packed with safety restrictions. One requires the unmanned aerial systems to be built in the U.S., as the FAA will not register a drone that’s registered by a foreign government.
The Dotchkovs, both aerospace engineers who operate Smart Aerial, have an application pending with the FAA. They said they are operating under Academy of Model Aeronautics rules, such as: The drone must be flown under 400 feet, and in the line of sight. It must be a closed set, and operated more than three miles from the nearest airport.
“We know what we’re doing,” Val said.
With so many drone cowboys jumping on the bandwagon, Dotchkov said, “We want regulation.”