Why do realtors use photos in the MLS listings of their properties that are for sale?

Most people would answer “to show the inside and outside of the house”.

Wrong.  Sort of.

The real, underlying reason that realtors use photos is to attract people to the listing so that they will go see it in person.

If you’ve ever purchased a home then most likely you viewed hundreds of listings (and perhaps thousands of photos) online before going to see one in person.  Now that doesn’t mean that you studied hundreds of listings, but if you counted the number of individual listings that crossed your eyeballs the number would be in the hundreds, if not more.

Oran Daly of Keller Williams in Pittsburgh, PA says “the average home buyer will view hundreds of properties online before making a decision on which one’s they want to go and see in person, and this is the key, getting them there.  It’s like the saying ‘You eat with your eyes’:  the same holds true for everything we buy and even more so with a home purchase.  You want to grab the attention of the potential home buyer from the onset”.

So, what’s that have to do with drones?


Seeing the difference between ground level photography of a real estate establishing shot versus an aerial view. Photo by Eric Pensenstadler

Of those hundreds of listings flying by the average home buyer, 99% of them start with the exact same photo:  an establishing shot of the front of the house from eye level in the middle of the day.








An aerial perspective not too high can show features of a house/property that might not be seen from ground level photography. Photo by Eric Pensenstadler

What if the home buyer wants a pool and the house has the best inground pool in the neighborhood, but you can’t see the pool from standing on the ground in front of the house.

Now, what if you took that same situation, put a drone 50 feet in the air at a 45 degree angle to the front of the house during the golden hour so that you could also see part of the pool in the back.  Now as that home buyer is scrolling through listing after listing of the same redundant photos THIS photo jumps off the page at him and screams come see me!

Mission accomplished.  This home buyer is now going to visit the home in person which is the realtor’s goal.

Pensenstadler feels that drones can best be utilized closer to the ground. However, for obvious situations like showing large properties or farms drones are ideal for providing current high angle photos. Photo by Eric Pensenstadler


Does every drone shot have to be from 400 feet high?!

Now, to settle a misconception, drones are allowed to fly 400 feet high, yes, but is that always the best shot?  If you’re showcasing a high acreage property or farm then yes maybe it is.  But way too often people (or should I say amateurs) make the mistake of sending their drone up as high as it will go because that’s what you do with a drone right?

Not always.

Take this shot of the porch for example.

Photo by Eric Pensenstadler

It’s an average shot.  The lighting isn’t the best.  The framing is ok.  But you know what is awesome about this pic?  The perspective.  Even if only subconsciously, the viewer knows that this is not a view of a porch that we humans are supposed to have.  Therefore it STANDS OUT.

That is the ultimate goal of real estate photographyMake the house/property/listing stand out so that the potential home buyer will go visit it in person.   “Drones are the best way to gain that unique perspective” explains Daly.  “Aerial photography is the way forward!”


That establishing shot of the front of the house only needs to be 20, 30 or 50 feet high in order to give the viewer that same feeling as the porch example.  The viewer immediately feels the photo as it is a different perspective than he is used to, or perhaps has ever had.