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January 31, 2023

Philly realtor and pilot go viral with drone home tours

Destiny Carter and Ron Williams have grown a following on social media with their deft videos of city row homes

Real Estate Social Media
drone home tours.png @DESTINYSHERIEREALTY/TikTok

Philadelphia-based realtor Destiny Carter and drone pilot Ron Williams have gone viral on social media with their marketing videos for property listings in the city.

Drones can make just about anything cooler and more interesting than it used to be. Aerial views of cities, storm chasing, sporting in general — all better with drones. 

Add urban real estate marketing to that list.

Over the last few months, Philly-based realtor Destiny Carter and drone pilot Ron Williams have been putting city row homes and other properties on the market in a new light. Their videos advertising homes listed in Philly neighborhoods typically begin outside, from above the properties. Carter then opens the front door for Williams to swoop his drone inside and zip through the confines of every room, entry and exit. 

@destinysherierealty You all asked, and I listened🤗 Luxury on a budget! Looking fcr an affordable first time home/ rental property that you won't have to put any money into? This Eastwick property is perfectly renovated and move in ready! Contact Destiny Carters for more information or to schedule a showing 267-671-8850📲 #homeownership #philadelphiarealestateinvestor #firsttimehomebuyer #renovation #dronevideo #hometour ♬ Summers Day Drive - Stuart Moore

Drones aren't new to the real estate business, but the pandemic played a huge role in driving innovation behind marketing properties. Typically, drone videos have displayed lavish mansions and suburban, single-family homes — places with more space for pilots to operate. In cities, they haven't yet emerged as a mainstream promotion technique for less extravagant buildings. 

"A lot of properties, you can't even tell that they're renovated by just riding through the neighborhood," Carter said. "You have to go inside and say, 'Wow, they really renovated it very nicely.' I think that's the shock factor." 

Carter, 27, got her realtor's license at the end of 2021, when the U.S. housing market was still humming with low mortgage rates and surging demand from buyers. As the market cooled down over the last year, Carter looked for creative ways to build name recognition in a competitive industry. She had been using referral agencies to get experience representing buyers and sellers, but the associated fees and payments to brokerages capped her earning potential.

Carter turned to a guerrilla marketing strategy to attract home buyers. She reached out to other realtors representing sellers in Philly and offered to make them free, virtual home tour videos for platforms like TikTok and Instagram. The homes in Carter's drone videos are not her own listings, but interested buyers who see the properties on her social media channels can potentially become clients if they give Carter a call. The videos benefit the sellers and their agents while generating leads for Carter in the process.

"Realtors are happy to have me on their listings marketing them, but the overall goal for me is to pick up the listings on my own," Carter said. "I'm definitely getting calls. My following has grown. Soon, I think business will really be picking up."

Many of the drone videos on Carter's TikTok are for luxury properties in the city, including several homes above the $1 million mark. At first, Carter used a handheld camera to make her videos. They were fine, but nothing splashy. Then, while scrolling through her Instagram, Carter decided to follow Williams, who had recently launched Flywell, his business for drone videos. 

"I started my business within a year of getting my (drone) license from the FAA," Williams said. "That kind of lit a fire under my butt to just go out and hustle."

Last September, Carter asked Williams whether he'd be willing to make her a drone tour video for a listing in Roxborough-Manayunk. 

@destinysherierealty Tag your bestie👯‍♀️New construction, twin townhomes in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia! Call or text me for more Details 📲 267-671-8850 ##dreamhome##luxury##homebuying##bestie##bff##philadelphia##roxborough##Manayunk##pennsylvania##dronevideo##drone##decor##homestaging##realestate##realtoroftiktok##realtor##millionaire##hometour##investing##investors##propertytours ♬ Stylish Jazz HipHop - Future Oriented Triad

The two agreed to work together on future videos for cross-promotion as they each build up their respective businesses. Carter provides access to listings around Philly and Williams makes unique videos that put Carter's name on the map for home buyers. 

"For me, I'm kind of just trying to make the market because drone videos aren't really a thing," Williams said. "They're coming out (in real estate), but they're not very established yet."

The process is a bit of a gamble, considering Carter and Williams aren't currently getting paid for their videos. Carter usually leaves street addresses out of the videos for a reason. Other realtors working with buyers can easily share the links to Carter's videos and simply look up properties on the MLS, using details like the neighborhood and the list price.

"A good realtor can take all of those different pieces, put it into the MLS and find the house themselves," Carter said. "And then they're going to bring their buyer to the table and beat me out of it, as happened for a few of the homes."

Carter is more interested in building a brand that she believes will make her a known quantity for home buyers and sellers in Philadelphia and beyond. She said some of the drone tour videos have been reposted on Twitter, racking up millions of views. 

"Philly is definitely a different type of city. I think that's why the videos get the views they do," Carter said. "People aren't used to seeing these row homes."

@destinysherierealty You all asked, and I listened🤗 Luxury on a budget! Looking fcr an affordable first time home/ rental property that you won't have to put any money into? This Eastwick property is perfectly renovated and move in ready! Contact Destiny Carters for more information or to schedule a showing 267-671-8850📲 #homeownership #philadelphiarealestateinvestor #firsttimehomebuyer #renovation #dronevideo #hometour ♬ Summers Day Drive - Stuart Moore

To make the videos, Williams uses a cinewhoop propeller drone with a Naked GoPro mounted on top of it. When he and Carter go out to shoot listings every few weeks, Williams first surveys the homes to map out his flight paths. He wears virtual reality goggles that are synced to the drone's built-in camera to enable him to see what he's doing from a fixed place in the home. 

To make the videos social media-friendly, Carter usually speeds them up and adds in music to get the right vibe.

"I like to use Philly rappers for my home tours," Carter said. "I'm a Philly agent, so there's PnB Rock, there's Meek Mill. I just like to support my city as much as I can."

In certain neighborhoods near the airport and the stadium complex in South Philly, Williams said he must get advance approval from the FAA to fly his drone for these tour videos. But for the most part, he can operate freely around the city since he's a licensed pilot. 

Outside of his work with Carter, Williams makes videos for a range of businesses and production companies. Some of his gigs are well-paid contracts, while others are pro bono. He's done drone videos for City Fitness, Woodstock Power Company and some other real estate companies in Philadelphia. This week, he went to the Pennsylvania Convention Center and offered to film Lamborghinis to promote the Philadelphia Auto Show.

In the spirit of the Eagles' Super Bowl run, Williams even attached a mini version of the team's mascot, Swoop, to a drone that he flew around the Philadelphia Museum of Art last week.

In a copycat world, Williams isn't overly concerned about others trying to do what he and Carter have started.

"Even though the technology has enabled a lot of people to buy drones and get into flying, you really have to fly a drone and do freestyle stuff (to develop the skill)," Williams said. "You have to do flips and crash the drone and repair it — really understand the drone in order to feel confident flying it in a house."

The home tour shoots are not especially difficult for Williams, but he said they aren't something a novice could easily pull off.

"They could do it, but they're not going to have the swag that you get with having confidence and knowing your gear," Williams said. "Just understanding the physics of it through experience."

With the spring home buying season just around the corner, don't be surprised if you start seeing more of Carter and Williams' work in your feeds. They may be a labor of love for now, but Williams sees momentum building in the feedback and reach the videos are getting online. 

"You can see what's happening as a result of us doing this," Williams said. "It's not a stagnant result."