Scott Gerami, a 52-year-old managing broker for Re/Max Professionals Select in Naperville, wanted his for-sale listings to capture attention and stand above the rest.
So he built his own drones, which take aerial photos and video of the home and surrounding property. He also uses the images on his YouTube channel.
"Technology is the name of the game today, so this really sets things apart," Gerami said.
Gerami, who has been a real estate professional since 1986, loves new technology. So learning how to build and operate a drone -- an unmanned aircraft -- has been fascinating. It started about a year ago after he saw a video that showed what drones could do. That's when he began exploring ways to use it for his work.
At first, he bought kits to build his own drones, but they weren't much better than toys, he said.
He did more research and found the features he needed in the device. He began to seriously design and build his own drones with the help of Mad Lab Industries in North Aurora, which helped in the design and cutting of the parts. Gerami also bought some parts online from other companies, he said.
Initial images were shaky, he said, so he continued to make changes, including the addition of a gimbal device to hold the camera steady.
In the course of his work, he had a few setbacks. One drone, which had GPS, suddenly went out of control and flew straight north. He jumped in his car and followed it for a time, but then eventually lost it.
"There goes about $1,000," he said.
He lost his first two and now has another two in operation, for a total investment of roughly $4,000. The battery-powered quadracopter, or four-armed device, is about 2 feet square. He's now working on another one.
"The FAA regulates the use of these drones, so I can't charge for commercial use," he said. "And I also cannot allow it to go more than 400 feet or anywhere near airports."
So the drone soars above a home, showing a rooftop view and aerial images of the surrounding property, an angle that buyers often don't see.
Besides learning to design, build and operate the drones, Gerami now is focusing on perfecting the types of images received, especially editing the video. They can be found on his Scott Gerami YouTube channel now, he said.
"It is an attention getter," he said.
Surfing: Northbrook-based Allstate is offering an online game called Holiday Home Decorator, which shows you how your home could overload with too many holiday displays. It helps homeowners identify risks and provides tips to avoid potential hazards. Visitors use real images of their homes with satellite mapping technology. Virtually decorate the home by adding holiday lights, decorations and snow. As the user decorates, Mayhem appears if festivities get out of hand and a preventive tip is provided. It's at http://holidaydecorator.allstateonline.com/.
•Arlington Heights residents are among those who can now order from Peapod Pickup service at 1300 N. Rand Road. They can order online at Peapod.com and schedule a pickup for the same day, next day or another time. The online grocer also added such pickup places this year in Palatine, Deerfield, Lincolnshire and Schaumburg.
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