If you get the chance to fly in a small aircraft of any type, you will soon realise the delights of glimpsing the world from above. At a thousand feet you can peer into back gardens, see round corners, peek over hills and discern geographical features in context.
The advantage when house-hunting is easy to appreciate. You will see things that are indistinguishable at ground level, but very clear from the air. Maybe it’s a railway line or a quarry or an encroaching town at the end of the garden. Or perhaps a wonderful view is obscured by an old garage or an overgrown hedge.
As you’d expect, the super-rich have got there before us. Aerial viewing is gathering strength in LA and the San Francisco Bay area, where realtors have grasped an opportunity to offer exclusive rides to wealthy buyers.
Michael Repka of DeLeon Realty believes it’s of particular value to his overseas clients. “They don’t know if they want to be in LA, or the San Francisco Bay area, or anywhere – we really are selling the area, not just the home,” he said. He uses the plane weekly, he added, and is even planning to get his own pilot’s licence.
The aerial concept has been popular in Asia for some time. In Hong Kong, the sky-high view gives prospective buyers the best introduction to a property. A luxury development in Deep Water Bay, on the south side of Hong Kong Island, is hidden in the trees and not visible from the road. From a helicopter, you can appreciate how the homes are tucked away on the steep hillside, with mountain peaks behind and the shining sea in front. “Good Feng Shui,” explained Donald Choi, the developer.
It also makes sense when you’re looking for acreage. Ranch brokers in Texas and the Rockies can cover hundreds of square miles to show clients two or three properties, so it saves time to take to the air. In Calgary, Canada, Sotheby’s offers private jet and helicopter services to clients. Aerial viewings in Miami and Malibu highlight waterfront access, while in France, vineyards are growing popular among buyers who want to view a number of options on the fly, as it were.
And for the estate agents, it’s an eye-catching way to stand out in a crowded marketplace. San Francisco realtor Justin Fichelson (www.sothebysrealty.com) said: “Especially with luxury real estate you constantly want to be innovative and creative in new services, because it’s a competitive industry.”
The search for new ways to sell properties is a constant challenge for realtors around the world, but these agents are taking viewing to new heights.