Fuller broker takes off with drone



  • Fuller broker uses drone to shoot video of ranch.
  • Drone popularity growing in real estate.
  • Technology has improved while prices have dropped.
Terry Oakes and Christine Humphries used a drone to videotape a ranch in Castle Rock. Photo Credit: Danielle Swanson

Terry Oakes and Christine Humphries used a drone to videotape a ranch in Castle Rock. Photo Credit: Danielle Swanson

Until a few months ago, Terry Oakes thought of drones as “super-secret ways of dropping bombs and shooting people in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.”

That changed last November when Oakes, a broker with Fuller Sotheby’s International Realty, used a drone to shoot sweeping video of a 75-acre ranch he is listing near Castle Rock.

The Waverton Ranch, five minutes from Interstate 25 and 15 minutes from the Denver Tech Center, is on the market for $1.1 million, although 40 acre of it can be purchased separately for $575,000.

“The land is beautiful, but it is hard to show all it has to offer with fixed-photography,” Oakes said on Tuesday.

“Spotlight Home Tours came to me and asked if I wanted to be a guinea pig to use a drone,” he said.

Christine Humphries of Salt Lake City-based Spotlight Home Tours launched the drone from three different sites on the ranch and the footage was edited into about a two-minute video, which he posted on his web page.

It costs about $300 to shoot a video using a  drone.

It was well worth it, Oakes said.

“A ranch like this is really the best and highest use for a drone,” as it shot video above a river, a bluff, trees and hills, and showed flat pieces of property where a house could be constructed,  he said. The video has been viewed by people as far away as South America, Florida, Australia and Japan

“Plus, whoever buys it will build a one- or two-story house on the property, so a drone video will show you what your view would look like,” he said.

Although it was a sunny day, it wasn’t perfect for the postcard-perfect ranch.

“Regrettably, it was a little on the windy side, so the drone was whipped around a little bit, so the shots may have not been quite as crisp and clear as they might have been,” he said.

But he wouldn’t hesitate to use a drone again.

“Absolutely,” he said. “With the right property a drone can’t be beat.”

Scott Webber, president of Fuller Sotheby’s International Realty, said it is “thrilling” to see his brokers embrace the cutting-edge technology.

Bret Peterson,  owner of Spotlight Tours, was driving to a Park City home to use a drone to shoot a video on Tuesday.

“The use of drones is just exploding,” in real estate, Peterson said.

“We probably shoot a drone video a day in Utah.”

In addition to Utah and ranches in the Denver area, they’ve used drone in Vail and Aspen as well as in California and Hawaii.

“We used to hire a company here in Salt Lake City for a couple of years and use their drones, but they were quite a bit more expensive,” he said.

“We used to have to charge $1,500 a day and now it is about $300,” Peterson said. “Drones were quite a bit more expensive than they are today. They have made some big leaps in technology and the price has come down substantially.”

He said that while you can buy a drone for about $500, a good one costs about $3,000. They have three drones in Utah, but counting photographers in various state, including Colorado, they have access to about eight, he said.

GoPro cameras are attached to the drone, which can climb as high as 1,000 feet, although they typically are no more than 500 feet in the air or even lower, he said, often just topping the tallest trees on a property.

A remote control can guide them on a 10-minute flight, theoretically from as far as two miles away, he said.

If the drone is out of sight it can spell trouble on occasions.

“We’ve actually crashed three of them,” Peterson said. “One exploded when it hit a shed. Not actually exploded, but it was totaled.”

In Utah, they use more advanced drones than the one used for the Waverton Ranch video.

“We have shot some unbelievably awesome videos,” Peterson said. “They look like they were shot from helicopters.”

He said they have never had to get permission to fly one from the Federal Aviation Authority.

“We thought we might need to get something from the FAA in Aspen, but we checked with the town and they said they weren’t big enough or go high enough to need any kind of a permit,” Peterson said.

In addition to ranches and resort mansions, drones are ideal for showing views from tall buildings that haven’t yet been built, he said.

Occasionally, they’ve even used a drone inside a home with big expansive spaces and tall ceilings, although more traditional video taping usually works inside, he said.

Both he and Oakes are intrigued by the idea of Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, to use drones to deliver books, but they don’t quite get the logistics.

“I don’t really understand how he is going to do that,” Peterson said. “He would certainly need to use more sophisticated drones than what we use.”

Peterson agreed with Oakes that most people’s perception is that drones “are used to drop bombs in the Middle East.”

Other than being unmanned aircrafts, they have little in common with the drones used by the military, he said.

“It’s a little misleading to even call them drones,” Peterson said. “They really are sort of a  step-up from a motorized toy helicopter.”

That is part of the fun.

“It’s very, very cool to shoot a video with a drone,” he said. “It’s like being a big kid playing with your really cool toy helicopter.”

Interested in buying a home in Castle Rock? Please visit COhomefinder.com to  find out what is available.

Have a story idea or real estate tip? Contact John Rebchook at  JRCHOOK@gmail.com. InsideRealEstateNews.com is sponsored by Universal Lending, Land Title Guarantee and 8z Real Estate. To read more articles by John Rebchook, subscribe to the Colorado Real Estate Journal.



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John Rebchook

John Rebchook has more than 30 years of experience in writing and communications. As the Real Estate Editor for the Rocky Mountain News, he wrote about residential and commercial real estate for 26 years. He has won numerous awards for business stories and columns that he wrote, both as an individual and part of teams. In addition to real estate, he also covered economic development, banking and financing, the airlines, and cable TV for the Rocky. In addition, he was one of the original freelance writers for GlobeSt.com, covering commercial real estate for the Internet publication.

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