Drones are already revolutionizing the commercial real estate industry. While much of the attention is getting paid to how drones for commercial real estate are enhancing how brokers list and market properties, the impact of drones may be even greater for the users and managers of those commercial properties.
Changing Site Selection
The use of drones to improve property marketing packages are making site selection easier. They add another level of information to what you are able to pre-visualize from your desk without visiting a property. Now, in addition to seeing property photos, aerials and demographic data, you also potentially get to see a detailed inspection of how the property sits in its market, how people move through it and how traffic flows in, out and around it. While this probably isn't enough information to let you make a decision to occupy a space without visiting it, it should help you to weed out more unsuitable spaces without having to go there.
SIOR Live! interviewed Don Catalano, SIOR, about the future use of drones in commercial real estate: See the video here
Drones and Site Management
Once you are in a location, drones for commercial real estate make it easier to inspect and manage. Detailed inspections of a building's exterior become much easier when you have a flying high-resolution camera that you can pilot to show you the entire facade as well as to give you a detailed view of the roof and its condition. You could even use an interior drone fly-by to shoot pictures and videos of company assets in the building for insurance purposes. In times, drones could even take over local site inspection duties, saving your staff from having to visit far flung locations.
Drones and Logistics
While Amazon's plans to use drones for sale day delivery still remain more pie-in-the-sky than drone-in-the-sky, drones will impact your company's operational logistics in the months and years to come. Even if they do not eliminate the need to have delivery services, drones could serve roles within your campuses as well as helping vendors service you better through local deliveries.
A Changing Legal Landscape
Drones for commercial real estate are at the cutting edge of property technology. Unfortunately, the regulatory world has not yet completely figured out how to handle them. On one hand, a drone is not truly comparable to an airplane. On the other hand, they fly in the air and can interfere with air transportation. Because of that, the Federal Aviation Administration has been issuing relatively stringent regulations on drones for commercial real estate. As of the writing of this piece in July 2015, holding a pilot's license is one of the keys to being able to pilot a drone for commercial purposes. While the FAA is working on new regulations, they will still likely require a certification process for commercial drones.
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