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April 2015

FAA releases new temporary regulations on drone photography

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Is your drone photography breaking the law?

Excited about the idea of using drone photography for your latest luxury listing? Choose your drone photographer carefully or you may be violating the Federal Aviation Administration’s latest rules and regulations and subjecting your photographer, yourself, and your seller to injunctions and stiff fines.

In order to legally use drones, or what the FAA calls “unmanned aircraft systems” for a commercial purpose--including real estate photography--new temporary FAA guidelines require that your photographer apply for and receive an exemption from the FAA to operate drones commercially. Final regulations are not yet in place, but proposed details can be reviewed in the Federal Register. To see if your photographer has an operating exemption under the newly released temporary guidelines, check the list of exemption holders on the FAA website. For more information about how to apply for an exemption, visit the FAA’s "Section 333" information page. New regulations are expected to be published later this year.

High-End Security Systems: Really, Really Safe

In luxury homes, security often goes beyond a simple alarm system (and sometimes beyond the bounds of imagination). For luxury real estate professionals, it’s important to be in touch with the particular security concerns of high-end clientele, and the most popular and effective luxury home security systems available. Also, be aware that it’s commonplace for sellers to ask real estate professionals and prospective buyers to sign non-disclosure agreements covering their safe room or bunker.

Home security systems favored by high-income homeowners all share the same central goal: fast and secure isolation from potential intruders.


  • Safe rooms – The most popular luxury security option is the safe room, or panic room, which is typically centrally located so that it can be quickly and easily accessed in an emergency. There are dozens of companies that specialize in designing and installing bulletproof, entry-resistant rooms, which vary in size and comfort. To add an extra layer of security, many luxury homeowners ask that their safe room’s entrance be disguised. Companies like Creative Home Engineering specialize in customized and secure secret passageways, hiding safe room entrances behind bookshelves, mirrors, or even movable staircases. These security features could also be used to securely store your wealthy clientele’s art, valuables or guns.
  • Bunkers – Another less common security option is the bunker. Bunkers are hugely expensive and meant to withstand not only home invasion, but also natural disasters and even bombs. Bunkers are (of course) underground and typically designed to allow people to survive there for weeks or months. Check out this Forbes article about the trend of millionaire’s in-home bunkers.

There are a plethora of security solutions for luxury homeowners, but the best of today’s high-end security companies are offering all-in-one smart home technology that allows the homeowner to control things like climate, energy consumption, lighting, entertainment, and security, remotely and with ease.

Losing buyers due to poor headlines?

NowhereCreating a compelling headline requires more thought than using the street address as your property marketing headline. In fact, using the street address as the headline is one of the biggest mistakes real estate professionals make. It’s also ineffective. Unless the address is the most important thing about the home (1600 Pennsylvania Ave. for instance), use the street address elsewhere in your copy and begin to tell the home’s unique story in your headline. For instance, which headline is more likely to generate interest?

“7432 Johnson Drive”
“Just featured in Architectural Digest...yet only $750,000.”

Will a reader be more likely to want to know more about,

“1030 Edgewood”
“Small house, small price, BIG yard!”

Don’t be afraid of long headlines or long copy. If it’s good copy, it will be more effective than short copy. Yes, really. Advertising research backs this up, especially if you are writing about a product – like a property listing - that not everyone is familiar with. We’ve been taught in real estate to keep copy short, when in fact, we’d be creating more effective marketing pieces if we’d work to tell a compelling story about the home with plenty of descriptive copy. Here’s a combination headline and sub-headline that illustrates these principles. 

Your offer to buy must come with this promise:

  • I will appreciate the sweeping lake views, 
  • I will open the master bedroom wall and sleep under the stars, 
  • I promise not to gloat too much over the $445,000 price reduction!

This is likely to be more effective at attracting a buyer than, “1657 Hill Crest Lane.”

As you write your copy, do break long copy into short paragraphs and use some bold paragraph headings to help tell the story and create visual interest. Also, be sure there is plenty of white space between the lines. You can even use long copy online, if you format it so that it is reader friendly. Obviously your MLS descriptions have to be short. But don’t use MLS blurbs elsewhere, instead use good selling copy.

You should be getting the idea. In summary, headlines should begin to tell the story of your listing and should create curiosity. One advertising text book says that your headline should capture the reader and make them want to read the subhead and the subhead should pull the reader in to read the body copy.

Think about it this way: every home has a story and it’s your job to tell it in a compelling way. The headline is how you grab the reader’s attention by sharing something important about your listing. And once you’ve captured attention, don’t be afraid to use enough copy to weave your home’s story. After all, stories sell.

Monaco’s royal heirs develop super luxe residences

Monaco Royals Andrea and Pierre Casiraghi, heirs to Monaco’s throne and grandsons of Grace Kelly, have introduced one of the principality’s most expensive and exclusive condominium apartment developments as part of a plan to add new residences to Monaco’s scarce residential supply and reinforce Monaco as a destination for Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWI).

A conversion of the abandoned headquarters of the former Banca Commericiale Italiana, the project is in the desirable trophy neighborhood next to Monaco’s Casino Square. Named La Petite Afrique, the building is slated for completion in Winter of 2016 and is a joint project of the Casiraghi’s Fine Properties Monte Carlo and construction firm Pizzarotti Group.

Quietly being marketed by word of mouth only – which highlights how exclusive it is -- the building redo is the work of “starchitecht” Isay Weinfield. The two story penthouse is reported to have been sold already for about €200 million. Seven other residences of around 7,500 square feet each are also reported to be under contact. Prices for those apartments were believed to be in the €85,000 per square metre range (US$8,483 per square foot), or about US$72 million each. As of the end of March, only two units on the fifth floor are still available.

More details in this WealthX article.