Drone Crazy

By Dave Fratello | May 23rd, 2019

Seems like we're overdue for having drones delivering our online purchases. Or was that hype?

On the positive side, we're also not too close to the time when drones become sentient and turn on their human masters.

So, count your blessings.

But we come today not to debate AI or flying Amazon boxes, but rather to say that drones are a mixed bag with real estate.

612 Anderson Street Manhattan Beach CAOn the one hand, drones can deliver fabulous aerial views that give you a great sense of an area, or a property.

On the other hand, agents may use drone photos to present a confusing image when advertising a home for sale.

It's not the only offender or the worst, but 612 Anderson (3br/3ba, 1700 sqft.) in the Hill Section provoked these thoughts.

The lovely airborne image here from the listing shows a selection of homes along Anderson at the center, but you're going to be focusing on that grand view of the Pacific Ocean. Ohhhh, the sunsets!

Except... Anderson is mostly not a view street.

612 Anderson Street Manhattan Beach CAAnd this, right here, is the actual home for sale.

It's a modest 1960s home on a smallish, 3250 sqft. lot. The best view is of the homes across the street.

There are more than 40 photos of the home itself in the listing. So there's plenty of chance to get a sense of the property as it actually stands by perusing the full listing.

But that killer drone shot is photo #1, which means it's the "thumbnail" photo that proliferates all over the internet as the primary advertisement of the property.

612 Anderson Street Manhattan Beach CAHere, shall we say, the reality seems to differ somewhat from the first impression.

We are definitely not accusing the listing agent of actually misleading consumers. Indeed, there is not a thing in the rules for the MLS that precludes using as a featured "thumbnail" a photo that does not feature the actual house. (Arguably, the drone shot could count as an exterior pic if you realize that the thin, red-roofed property right about centered in the photo is 612 Anderson.)

Indeed, we might share the fact that a recent proposal to require the #1 MLS photo to be the actual exterior of the home for sale lacked any support in a recent vote among MLS regulators. (Mostly because agents want to be able to feature the best parts of a home: kitchen, master bath, yard, etc., instead of only the exterior.)

And there are really no other MLS regs involving drones. (The FAA, for its part, cares a great deal.)

Still, we're thinking... maybe don't put first a view that no one will ever have.

Until we get those jet packs we've been promised.


Some other listings teasing a view that you can't really get, thanks to drones:

323 23rd Street Manhattan Beach CA323 23rd (2 homes on one standard lot)

Not sure if that's a drone shot or a person standing on a roof, or how they got this magnificent view for the #1 photo. There are later drone shots, and this one seems to be taken from several feet above the level of the roof deck of the front home, so we're guessing drone.

With the next-door neighbors to the west already built to 3 stories, it's simple: the buyer won't get this view.

2909 Highland Avenue Manhattan Beach CA2909 Highland (TH, just sold)

If you think about this photo at all, it's not purporting to be a view from the house, and it does clearly and centrally feature the property for sale.

So it's really an extreme exterior photo, meant to show the home in context.

233 7th (sold 2017)

This was Dave's listing, sold in June 2017.

The photo here follows the approach taken above by 2909 Highland, trying to show off the location of the home in context.

So, yes, we use drones, too. (We're booking one today.)

But that drone shot was not the #1 photo in the listing, ever. We used an ocean-view shot taken from a balcony by a person actually standing on said balcony. #truth

435 29th Street Manhattan Beach CA435 29th (double lot home)

This is somewhat less out of step with the actual offering than the Anderson listing, because it does show the property clearly in frame. It's the blue double-lot house with the red-brick driveway. (Well, now you know.)

The big streak of ocean in the drone photo may imply that a home on the property could have ocean views, but that's up for debate. Few homes that deep on the plateau streets ("the flats") get more than a smidgen of blue.

428 36th Street Manhattan Beach CA428 36th (sold)

The full-lot SFR offered in this sale was from the 1940s and just 2br/1ba, 1000 sqft.

That usually means it's a lot sale.

That view in the photo is no one's view (without one of those jet packs), but at least here they've helpfully outlined the home for sale in red.

Science note: If there are any flat-earthers out there, check out the way the ocean bends at each edge of the photo. Do you really need more proof that the Earth is a sphere?

461 26th Street Manhattan Beach CA461 26th (land sale)

The drone may be 100 feet up for this shot (hard to say), and of course the real view doesn't include a red rectangle with a 30x90 label.

But this is actually a very reasonable way to show off the plot of land for sale, and may be the best way to feature the offering.

Several later drone shots, all marking the property in red, show it off to feature its location. Not bad. Not crazy.

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