Real estate crowdfunding platform Fundrise is trying out drone videos to show off potential properties to investors — and to help ascertain their value.
“It gives you a bird’s-eye view,” said CEO Ben Miller. Earlier this month, the company sent out an UAV to catch a glimpse of a Santa Monica building from up top.
Drones can be used by developers to get a sense of the neighborhood, get shots of the property from above and check on traffic levels in a given area.
These important details are currently being gathered with various satellite image-based apps, like Google Maps, said Miller. But those are not always accurate enough for commercial real estate’s purpose.
Collecting up-to-date pictures is essential in a business where location, location, location is key.
“Instead of being a burned-out parking lot across the street, it may [now] be a … boutique hotel,” said Miller.
The industry also employs old-fashioned methods: “You hire a company to go stand in a corner and count people all day,” said Miller.
Using aerial drone views to calculate foot traffic could minimize these costs substantially. “It’s cheaper to send a drone than to send a person,” he said.
“In a real estate your bias is not to innovate,” said Miller. “In a building if you do something wrong it’s much harder to fix it’s more capital intensive.”
But now, more and more commercial real estate agencies are trying them out. DroneBase, the company Fundrise rented its drone from, is specialized in that market.
Plus, Fundrise got its start going against the grain of its lumbering industry: It invested in H Street properties that institutional investors wanted no part of.