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Drones Fly in Newest Push for Real Estate Sales

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An Ocean City real estate agent is exploring relatively uncharted territory in the air space above the island.

Century 21 Alliance Realtor John Walton stands on the beach at 59th Street as drone films the view from one of his listings at 5902 Central Avenue in Ocean City, NJ.

John Walton, who leads a team of Realtors selling for Century 21 Alliance, launched the virgin flight of a drone on Thursday to film one of his premier oceanfront sales listings.

The small remotely controlled device took aerial footage of a duplex unit at 5902 Central Avenue, separated from the beach and ocean only by the roadway and just a few houses down from Corson’s Inlet State Park.

Walton said the drone is part of an effort to offer “the best marketing tools available to the demanding consumer.”

Tyler Demcher of Abstract Productions remotely controls the drone as Realtor John Walton explains how it will be used to help market waterfront properties.
Tyler Demcher of Abstract Productions remotely controls the drone as Realtor John Walton explains how it will be used to help market waterfront properties.

Potential buyers will be able to get a bird’s-eye view of beachfront and bayfront properties on videos posted to his website and social media pages.

In a budding trend, drones are being used by real estate professionals in Ocean City and throughout the nation (see sample).

The technology is pushing the boundaries of what’s possible and affordable in marketing, but it’s also testing privacy and safety concerns in a largely unregulated sphere.

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Walton said he’ll abide by two principles in the absence of clear guidelines on the use of drones: permission and responsibility.

He said he asked permission of the property’s owners and tenants, and the city, and gave a heads up to the Chamber of Commerce and other organizations in town. He is working with Tyler Demcher of Abstract Productions, who has experience in operating the drone.

Demcher said the Federal Aviation Administration has regulations that prohibit drones from flying higher than 200 feet in towns with airports. He said the drone’s remote control typically has a range of about 400 feet in all directions. Beyond that range, it is programmed for a soft landing. The drone has a GPS chip to help owners locate it, and it floats if it lands in water.

Walton said the drone technology is a cost-effective way to achieve what used to take the prohibitively expensive leasing of airplanes or helicopters for aerial photography. A fully rigged drone and GoPro camera like the one that flew on Thursday costs $2,500, he said.

He said he was spending “several hundred dollars” for Demcher’s one-film services. The aerials that Demcher films will enhance traditional high-definition video of a property’s interior and exterior, Walton said.

After it’s edited and formatted, the footage of the property filmed on Thursday will be able to be viewed on johnwaltonrealestate.com.