Drones, technically known as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), are capable of capturing aerial images and video footage that take real estate listings to the next level. Drones have become more accessible in recent years, allowing real estate photographers to invest in the tools to upgrade the content for their listings.
The results of using drones for real estate photography are tangible: Listings featuring aerial imagery are 68 percent more likely to sell than properties without them. Shopping for drones online, however, can quickly become overwhelming since there are so many options available at a wide range of prices.
Just ahead is a breakdown of what to look for when shopping for the best drones for real estate photography as well as the key considerations to keep in mind as you shop. Keep reading for tips on choosing the best option and explore the list of curated picks for the best real estate drones on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: DJI Mavic Air 2 Fly More Combo
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Holy Stone HS720E GPS Drone with 4K Camera
- UPGRADE PICK: Autel Robotics EVO 2 Pro 6K Drone UAV
- BEST FOR VIDEO: DJI Air 2S Fly More Combo
- BEST FLIGHT LENGTH: DJI Mavic 3
- BEST FOR BEGINNERS: Ruko F11 Pro Drone
- ALSO CONSIDER: Parrot PF728000 Anafi Drone
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Drone for Real Estate
While it’s easy to assume that all drones offer similar performance, a number of factors affect their functionality. Drones for real estate should be durable, easy to use, and have high-quality cameras that can capture both photos and video. Keep reading to learn about several of the most important features to consider when choosing the best drone for real estate photography.
One of the primary considerations when choosing drones for real estate is the quality of their cameras. Since the images and videos produced must be of a professional quality, opting for a top-of-the-line camera is essential. When it comes to photography, it’s best to look for a camera that captures photos of at least 12 megapixels (MP).
Although photos posted on the Web don’t need to be larger than 12 MP, those used in print for advertising should have even higher resolution, a consideration when looking at drone camera features. When choosing the best drone for real estate videos, it’s important to opt for a model with 4K video that captures at least 30 frames per second (FPS).
Flight performance is a top consideration when choosing a drone. The following factors impact how a drone performs:
Quadcopter design: The best drones for real estate photography feature a quadcopter design and are shaped like an “X,” which allows for smooth flying and image stability.
- Flight range: Consumer drones typically feature a flight range of between 1 and 8 miles, which dictates how far they can fly from the controller. It’s important to note that drone operators must always keep drones in their line of sight.
- Gimbal: Drones are equipped with a gimbal, which provides stability to the camera even in windy conditions. A 3-axis gimbal is generally considered to be essential for the best flight performance.
- Battery life: Battery life is an important consideration because the battery dictates how long the drone can be operated. Most consumer-level drones need to be recharged frequently because their batteries last for a maximum of about 45 minutes. Look for a drone with a battery life of at least 20 minutes to ensure it can capture a sufficient amount of visual content in a single flight. Models that come with additional batteries are an added bonus.
Safety is important when operating a drone of any kind. If a drone crashes and falls, it can be irreparably damaged, and since most drones require a significant financial investment, it’s best to avoid crashes at all costs. Many modern drones are equipped with crash-avoidance sensors that automatically adjust the drone’s flight path when the sensors detect an object in its way.
These sensors may be on the front, back, top, or bottom of the drone. The best drones have a return-home function that allows users to recall them with the push of a button and automatically send them back to their starting point if they lose contact with the controller.
Ease of Use
Ease of use is a major consideration when choosing a real estate drone, especially for those who are new to drone photography. Drones differ greatly in their user interfaces and the complexity of their features, so some are more suitable for beginners than others. Those looking for optimal ease of use should prioritize models with a simple controller that has intuitively placed joysticks and buttons.
Drones that are suitable for real estate photography are relatively sizable, but they should still be compact enough to enable easy portability. Those looking for a portable drone will want to opt for a model with foldable arms so users can carry them compactly in a backpack or camera bag. Drones with longer battery lives have larger batteries that weigh more. Portability is often counteracted by durability since drones made from the most durable materials don’t tend to be particularly compact or lightweight.
Our Top Picks
Now that you’ve learned more about drones, it’s time to start shopping. The following are the top picks for the best real estate drones. These recommendations were selected because of their quality construction, excellent performance, and top-notch ease of use. Whether you’re looking for an entry-level model or a professional-grade option, there’s sure to be something here for you.
Those looking for an entry-level drone that performs well enough to provide high-quality aerial imagery for real estate listings should consider the DJI Mavic Air 2. It comes at a relatively affordable price yet is packed with upgraded features. As an added bonus, it’s sold in a kit that includes everything a user would need to get started with drone photography.
The camera has a 0.5-inch sensor that produces 48 MP photos and 4K video at 60 FPS. With a 34-minute flight time, it should last long enough for users to capture all the footage they need. The unit can transmit video from up to 6.2 miles away, giving this model an impressive flight range for larger properties. With the drone’s focus-tracking features, videographers can easily lock onto a subject and keep it in focus while the drone moves.
In terms of safety features, this drone includes object sensors on three sides to prevent collisions. The kit includes the drone and propellors as well as the remote control, three batteries, a battery charger, a gimbal protector, an neutral-density (ND) filter set, a shoulder bag, and all the necessary cables.
- Image quality: 48 MP
- Video quality: 4K/60 FPS
- Flight length: 34 minutes
- High-quality photo and video
- Long video transmission distance
- Kit includes a number of useful accessories
- Long flight length
- Not as compact as some other drones
Get the DJI Mavic Air 2 drone for real estate on Amazon or at B&H Photo.
Those wanting to try out drone photography without making a major financial investment will want to consider the Holy Stone HS720E GPS Drone. It produces high-quality 4K video and is equipped with a number of handy features. The auto return-home function ensures that the drone will return to the hub at the click of a button or whenever the battery is low.
A bonus that is particularly useful for real estate photography is the point-of-interest feature, which allows the user to program the drone to circle a particular object without actually having to control the drone. Users can also program specific flight paths and take advantage of this model’s stable hovering feature.
One of the downsides to this model is that it has a relatively short flight time of 23 minutes per battery, meaning users will need to employ the backup battery if they want to shoot for longer. The kit does, however, include an extra battery as well as backup propellers and a carrying case.
- Image quality: 16 MP
- Video quality: 4K/30 FPS
- Flight length: 23 minutes
- Point-of-interest feature to circle a specific object
- Includes extra battery
- Features return-home function
- Short flight time per battery
- Low photo quality
Get the Holy Stone drone for real estate on Amazon.
For ultrahigh-quality photos and video, the Autel Robotics EVO 2 Pro is an excellent upgrade pick. It boasts 6K video at 30 FPS or 5.5K video at 60 FPS and takes 48 MP photos. The camera features an aperture that adjusts from f/2.8 to f/11, allowing users to focus on specific objects and blur out the background for a more artistic look in both still photography and video. It features 360-degree object avoidance, making for safe flights no matter the surroundings. The drone has a 5.6-mile extended range and can fly for up to 40 minutes on a single charge.
If the drone loses communication with the controller or runs low on battery, it will automatically return to the hub. This model also includes a memory card and supports memory cards of up to 256 gigabytes (GB) along with having 8 GB of built-in memory. The bundle includes three batteries, saving users from having to buy additional batteries separately.
- Image quality: 48 MP
- Video quality: 6K/30 FPS
- Flight length: 40 minutes
- Automatic return feature
- Memory card included
- Features adjustable aperture
- Long flight length
Get the Autel Robotics drone for real estate on Amazon.
Real estate professionals looking for a drone to record crisp and stable videos will appreciate the performance of the DJI Air 2S. It’s capable of capturing both RAW and JPEG photos, allowing creators to adjust light and color freely in postproduction. It also has excellent low-light performance, so photographers can capture stunning night images without compromising image quality.
The drone has a flight time of 31 minutes and can travel an impressive 11.5 miles from the controller. It’s also incredibly compact, weighing just 595 grams (about 1.3 pounds), which makes it lightweight and easy to transport. While this model is expensive, it costs less than many other drones on the market offering similar specifications.
- Image quality: 20 MP
- Video quality: 5.4K/30 FPS
- Flight length: 31 minutes
- Excellent low-light performance
- 4-direction object avoidance
- Long flight range
- Shoots RAW photos and video
Get the DJI Air 2S drone for real estate on Amazon or at Best Buy.
One of the biggest drawbacks of budget drones is their short flight lengths. This model from DJI, however, has an impressive flight length of 46 minutes, allowing for more extensive photography and videography on a single battery charge. This drone is equipped with a Hasselblad camera that produces 5.1K video at 50 FPS and 20 MP photos.
The Hasselblad Natural Colour Solution reproduces natural-looking colors for a realistic final effect. On top of that, the 12.8-stop dynamic range allows users to shoot in bright light without their highlights being blown out. In terms of safety, it has advanced Omnidirectional Obstacle Sensing, which prevents collisions and crashes. The drone is capable of flying 9.3 miles from the controller, an extensive flight range that’s more than long enough for most real estate photographers.
- Image quality: 20 MP
- Video quality: 5.1K/50 FPS
- Flight length: 46 minutes
- High-quality photo and video
- Long video transmission distance
- Excellent color reproduction
- Long flight length
- Lower quality still images than some
Get the DJI Mavic 3 drone for real estate at Amazon, Moment, or Best Buy.
Beginners wanting to test out drone photography before committing to a professional-level camera will appreciate the smooth operation and top-notch ease of use of the Ruko F11 Pro. It’s available at an affordable price, and while its video quality is on the slightly lower side, it’s still sufficient to produce Web-ready videos for property listings.
The drone can fly stably without blurring images and has advanced controls that allow users to focus on specific objects and program the drone to circle them, capturing 360-degree imagery. Despite its low price, this model still boasts a 30-minute flight time, which is higher than many other models in the entry-level drone space. It’s important to note that this model has a low flight range of under a mile, so it’s not well suited for photographing extensive properties.
- Image quality: 12 MP
- Video quality: 2.9K/25 FPS
- Flight length: 30 minutes
- Simple user interface
- Affordable price
- Midrange flight length
- Low video quality
- Limited flight range
Get the Ruko drone for real estate on Amazon.
The Parrot PF728000 Anafi Drone is an excellent entry-level option that can stand up to its much more expensive competitors. Its foldable design makes it compact for transportation, and the model requires no assembly to get up and running when photographers arrive on location. This is the perfect drone for operating in extreme weather since it can handle temperatures between minus 14 and 122 degrees Fahrenheit without the risk of damaging the camera. It’s capable of shooting in RAW mode, which is rare for a budget drone in this price range.
The flight time of 25 minutes should be sufficient for shooting real estate photos and videos. It’s able to travel 2.5 miles from the controller, which is a long enough range for most standard uses. The camera has a fixed aperture of f/2.4, which lets in plenty of light but isn’t ideal for broad landscape shots.
- Image quality: 21 MP
- Video quality: 4K/24 FPS
- Flight length: 25 minutes
- Foldable design
- Resistant to extreme temperatures
- Capable of shooting in RAW
Get the Parrot drone for real estate on Amazon.
After reviewing this guide, you now know more about shopping for drones for real estate photography. We recommend the DJI Mavic Air 2 drone for its high-quality photo and video output, long flight length, and accessory kit. Those on a budget may appreciate the Holy Stone drone, which offers great performance at a lower price point.
How We Chose the Best Drones for Real Estate
Years of experience covering electronics as well as extensive product research went into creating this guide. We explored more than 30 drone options and weighed a number of practical considerations before making our recommendations.
- Photo and video quality: Photo and video quality are paramount when choosing a drone for real estate photography. We prioritized models that could shoot 4K video and offered 12 MP cameras or higher.
- Body design: We only included drones with a quadcopter design since they provide the best image stability.
- Flight length: We gave preference to drones with longer flight lengths and only included models that could fly for at least 20 minutes on a single charge.
- Price: Drones are available at a wide range of price points. We aimed to include drones of varying prices to provide options for most shoppers’ needs.
The Advantages of Using Drones for Real Estate
While standard photography and videography have long been staples in the real estate industry, drone footage is changing the game. Here are some of the advantages of using drones for real estate imagery:
- Photos and videos captured with a drone show potential buyers angles that they can’t see in person.
- Drone photography offers an aerial view of a property that provides a more comprehensive look at its scope.
- Exterior features can be captured more extensively when using drone photography.
- Property listings featuring drone imagery have been proven to help sell a home.
- Drone photography can provide views of an attractive neighborhood or surrounding area.
While you now know more about choosing the best drone for real estate, you might still be looking for more information about how to use it. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about drone real estate photography.
Q. Is using a drone for real estate legal?
Using a drone for real estate photography is legal, but all drones must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and drone users must secure a commercial drone license.
Q. What should I look for when buying a drone?
When shopping for a drone for real estate photography, look for a model in your price range that offers 4K video and is capable of flying for at least 20 minutes.
Q. What drone should I get for real estate photography?
Our top pick is the DJI Mavic Air 2 drone, which is available at a relatively affordable price but produces professional-quality content.
Q. What is the best value-for-money drone?
The Holy Stone drone is incredibly affordable but capable of producing still photos and videos that are high-quality enough to be used for online real estate listings.
Q. Which brand of drone is best?
DJI is generally considered to be the top drone brand.
Q. How long can consumer drones fly?
Most consumer drones on the market can fly for a maximum of 45 minutes.
Q. Is it hard to learn to fly a drone?
Learning to fly a drone for real estate is difficult. Many photographers and real estate professionals may opt to take a course to learn the basics of drone photography.