Aerial Photographs and the Real Estate Professional: A New High-Tech Marketing Tool

Real Estate Aerial Photography

Satellite images and drones have been used in real estate for years, but now the next evolution is available to present even better, crisper, high-resolution images of residential and commercial properties, and from all angles high up in the sky.


Nearmap (, an aerial imagery provider based in Australia with a U.S. headquarters in South Jordan, Utah, is among the pioneers. It licenses the photos it takes to those who can use it most—real estate professionals and investors. These savvy business people want to increase and enhance their listings by spiffing up their marketing materials with much more than the typical head-on photo of the front, rear and sides of a home or commercial site.


“Nearmap helps us be much more efficient as we prepare to visit a site,” says broker Austin Alvis. His NewQuest Properties, a commercial real estate firm in Houston, uses Nearmap’s images to showcase very current aerials rather than the out-of-date, more traditional photos on which it used to depend.


Here is other pertinent data regarding this tool:


How widespread is its coverage? Nearmap regularly uses a fleet of Cessna aircraft to fly around the country with cameras mounted inside to capture properties—both commercial and residential. Up until now, its reach has been about 70 percent of the country, but it keeps adding more areas as its business grows.


Tony Agresta, vice president of marketing for Nearmap.

What types of views are offered? The photos are taken to capture both vertical, top down images that show roofs, landscapes and property features, as well as oblique images captured at angles ranging from 15 to 45 degrees that show heights of buildings and homes. Users see the details of each structure from any direction. Tony Agresta, vice president of marketing for Nearmap, reports that real estate professionals can provide visuals of a property in high resolution including top down photos and oblique photos from the north, south, east, and west. In addition, the imagery is 2.8-inch GSD which is much better than satellite imagery. Photos can also be delivered within days after they’re taken, through an easy-to-use interface called MapBrowser TM or accessed via Esri® and Autodesk products.



Ability to shorten or eliminate visits. Because of the high quality of images, buyers have expressed confidence about a listing being a potential good match without having seen it in person, Agresta says. “My wife looked at over 100 houses in person before we bought our home, but if we had had access to Nearmap then she could have seen them first on her laptop or tablet and probably ruled most of them out in minutes,” he says. Besides time saved, there’s also less driving, less stress and lower costs shopping for homes.


Other uses. Real estate professionals and investors can take the images and embed them in any of their promotional materials in print or online to give others a more detailed view as well as set their company apart from competitors who haven’t yet dipped their toes into this technology.


Comparisons of how properties change. Because Nearmap has been capturing imagery in the US dating back to 2014 and takes up to three photos per year, anyone using the photos can showcase how they change over time. The photos demonstrate how landscaping grows in, how homeowners add on and remodel, how pavement on the sidewalk and the roads change—how they wear or are repaved, and even how problems surface such as water pooling due to sewer problems or hurricane downpours. “The current imagery allows you to keep up with fast growing, rapidly changing areas,” says Agresta. So far, the company primarily photographs properties in more than 270 urban areas—all of the major and minor metropolitan and suburban areas, and the archive continues to grow.


Cost of aerial photos. The company licenses the images for an annual fee rather than sells them individually. “We make them available in the cloud,” Agresta says. A starter package costs a few thousand dollars per year allowing users to look at thousands of properties annually. “You could easily look at surrounding areas, schools, road networks and shopping centers,” Agresta says.


Limitations of the technology. The photos clearly show all around a house and the neighborhood. They don’t just peer into the home and capture the layout of how rooms relate and specific spaces such as a kitchen and master bathroom. However, a savvy real estate professional could combine these aerial images and other materials for an integrated application.


Next evolution. Nearmap is now capturing 3D imagery so users can immerse themselves in a neighborhood, walking down the street near a possible home to see how they really like living in that community. And next year Nearmap 3D will come online.


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