Tips From Top Agents: Trending Technology Tools Featuring Craig Thompson

Whether you’re just starting to use DocuSign, or you own your own drone, one thing’s certain: Real estate agents are embracing technology.

We all benefit from helpful guidance and advice from our peers and those who’ve advanced in the field. Today, I want to introduce you to Craig Thompson, President of GlobalVideoHQ.

Craig isn’t a real estate agent, but he works hand-in-hand with agents in the Dallas, Texas, area to create stunning listing videos using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), more commonly known as drones. 

Be sure to join us July 23 at 1 p.m. ET for a great live discussion about drones and other trending technology tools. You can watch our Google+ Hangout live or any time after by clicking play on the video above. Post any questions below in the comments. We’ll get to as many as possible.

I got the chance to chat with Craig while preparing for the upcoming Hangout. Here’s a look at some of our conversation:

Can you give us a little history of drone use and your experience?

Well, as far as my history goes, I’ve flown remote controlled devices since I was a kid. I started working in video about five years ago. Finally, last year, I decided to combine the two and explore UAV video technology. Over the past year, I’ve learned a lot about this technology and now provide high-quality professional video for various uses including events and real estate listings.

The use of drones really hit a turning point with the advent of GPS-stabilized systems. It opened up the market by reducing the steep learning curve. When you turn on the GPS-assisted flight mode, the device coordinates with satellites and stays within a 1-2 meter radius on its own. One of the great things about GPS-stabilized UAVs is that they now allow the user to get creative.

I’d bet someone who’s never operated a UAV could get one off the ground and flying around within 10 minutes using the GPS systems. It’ll still take more practice before you have it mastered and can produce high-quality professional video. But compared to past versions that required a much higher skill set and 100 percent concentration at all times, UAVs are much more user friendly.

How can a real estate agent benefit from the use of a video drone?

A UAV with video capabilities provides visual documentation no other device can; it can go lower than a helicopter and higher than a camera. The videos provide 360-degree views within a 3-D space and creates an emotion. Aerial shots are what dreams are made of, and that pairs well with real estate marketing, since real estate agents make a business out of helping buyers achieve the American dream. When you’re able to visualize the dream, it creates a call to action really difficult to counteract.

How will the recent statements by the FAA impact drone use?

The Federal Aviation Administration creates bulletins and guidelines for aircraft. Recently, it announced that real estate agent’s use of UAVs to create listing videos would not fall within the hobby flying exemption. There isn’t currently a law that I’m aware of prohibiting agents from flying a UAV to create a listing video. The FAA suggests that it’s legal for real estate agents to fly UAVs commercially if they receive a certificate of authorization, but I don’t think many are being issued right now.

I think it’s possible in the future that they’ll create some other UAV classes for devices meeting specific height and weight restrictions that may permit agents to use drones for commercial use, but nothing’s final at this time. First they’ll have to determine how they want to define aircraft. There’s a lot of room for interpretation right now. Once parameters are set on what defines an aircraft, I think we’ll have a better idea of how to interpret specific regulations and bulletins.

What guidance would you provide to an agent who is looking to embark on the path of using video drones?

I’d suggest figuring out a way to add drone video to your budget. I wouldn’t encourage an agent to attempt to create the video on their own. Hire an expert. An expert adds a layer of protection.

Agents don’t want to risk their reputation if a craft crashes or causes damage. Let the experts carry the insurance and risk. Focus on your expertise as an agent and allow a drone expert to focus on the video. You’ll also need to check with local MLS to determine if video and videographers need to be approved prior to listing.

Is there any other technology you’d recommend agents start using?

I really believe Google Hangouts have the ability to change the way you do business. Realtors often build a team around them of lenders, inspectors, title companies and other experts. To be able to arrange a Google Hangout together with a buyer could really improve efficiency and communication. An agent could walk through the property with the buyer’s team on the Hangout to field issues and questions.

Hangouts also allow for instantaneous service and negate the need to wait. They also help create a relationship by adding the human element of putting a face with a name in the age of conducting business over the phone and by email.

If you missed our hangout, you can watch the recap above, or the full hangout here.