Home Appraisals: In-Person or By Drone?

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Home Appraisals: In-Person or By Drone?

To get an estimate of a home's value, a home appraisal is performed by a licensed appraiser. The appraisal determines if the price is appropriate for what someone should pay for the home or for refinancing reasons.  As technology advances, the opportunity for drones to appraise your home has become a possibility.  While drones have been used to appraise land, the idea of a drone flying through your home is a new concept.  Let's explore the pros and cons of appraisals by humans and by drones.

An appraiser generally looks at the size and condition of the home, along with other permanent structures (ex. garage, outbuildings) and the property itself (ex. yard/land). Structural problems, like cracks in the foundation, are assessed as well as improvements which have been made to the home (ex. remodeled bathroom). Photographs are taken to document what's recorded by the appraiser. Improvements to the neighboring area and homes, as well as recent market trends, will also contribute the appraiser's estimate home value. As you can see, there is a lot to take into consideration when appraising a house. The real question is... can a drone also do all of this?

Now that the federal government is considering appraisals by drones, how might the process change? Will a drone fly around the perimeter of your house then through it?



Using drones for aerial views of properties, especially those with acreage, has been popular for quite some time. Having a drone inside the home.... now that's a newer concept. Regulators are considering drone appraisals for homes under $400,000. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation have both approved appraisals by computer models. So what are the benefits of drone appraisals?

  • Low cost
  • Time efficient
  • High resolution photos
  • Quickly and easily appraise large plots of land
  • Access hard-to-reach spaces (ex. rooflines, crawl spaces)
  • Allows appraisers to do their job better
  • Ideal for large commercial, rural and inaccessible properties
  • Programmable
  • Thermal imaging (ex. see heat loss)

What about the drawbacks?

  • Unable to get close to home's exterior due to close proximity of trees or buildings
  • Impersonal
  • Flying into priceless objects (ex. rare painting or antique glassware)
  • Unable to open doors/cabinets
  • Uncooperative home owners
  • Dog attacks
  • Analyst will still be needed to review footage
  • Privacy issues (ex. flying near/over neighbor's property)
  • Liability of drone crashes

As you can see, there are many pros and cons of using drones in real estate appraisals.  Can drones replace the human touch when appraising a home?  They certainly cannot open a cabinet but they can get into spaces that would be difficult for a person. With the number of appraisers dwindling and the number of licensed drone operators growing, drone appraisals may become more prevalent in the near future. 


Drones have been used to appraise and inspect plots of land with much success, but the jury's still out when it comes to appraising the interior of a home. If you're wondering if your home will be inspected by a drone, talk to your real estate agent for information on drone usage in your area.  Whether drones become a part of the appraisal process or not, they will still prove valuable in determining damage from natural disasters, search and rescue, insurance claims, crop management, and traffic monitoring among other areas.

You know what an appraisal is but what about a home inspection?  Read on to learn more.

Home Inspections

Janelle D.

I've worked in the real estate sector for more than a decade and enjoy sharing my knowledge on the subject and researching the latest trends. In my free time I like to craft, spend time with my family and dog, participate in outdoor activities like hiking, and I'm passionate about photography.

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