Rotorcraft Report: Home Shopping by Helicopter

By Staff Writer | July 1, 2009


Skywater Estates of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., provides a unique perspective of luxurious Florida properties; the company uses helicopters to fly well-heeled customers to premium real estate.

Skywater is co-owned by Larry Morales and real estate broker Ree Fritz Cole. They sell luxury residential property throughout the state, and are branching into business properties as well. "Larry is a licensed commercial helicopter pilot, so we are able to use the helicopter to show property in a few hours where in a car it would have taken every bit of a whole day," Cole said. "In that capacity it is a huge time saver." In most instances, the company relies on a Robinson R44. However, for larger groups, they will rent a Bell JetRanger or LongRanger.


While Morales is flying the helicopter, Cole is sitting with the client helping them understand what they’re seeing. "With my expertise of the real estate market and Larry’s expertise in aviation, we are able to combine our skill sets as a unique team providing a value-added benefit to our clients," she explains. "The helicopter can provide a bird’s eye view of the house they are interested well, we can see a broad layout of the house [showing features] such as: landscaping, neighboring houses, dock layouts and general house condition."

Helicopter real estate tours can help sell clients on the area they are flying over, not just the houses within it. "From the air we are able to give visual cues as to the proximity of key premium real estate areas," says Cole. "For instance, when we fly over South Beach the customer can get an instant visual perspective of the proximity to downtown Miami and the port without having to physically drive there. As well, when dealing with intercoastal waterfront properties, it is difficult to get a feel for how close the ocean is to the house. Frequently, we get questions like, ‘which inlet is closer for me to access the ocean by boat?’ With the helicopter, we can visually point out both inlets in the area, as well as other key maritime or landside landmarks."

All told, Ree Fritz Cole is bullish on helicopters as a real estate sales tool. "Flying the client has provided us with an edge on the competition," she said. "In this difficult real estate market, realtors need to use every tool at their disposal." That said, Skywater Estates is careful to limit its helicopter tours to pre-qualified premium prospects, because the company covers the entire cost of such flights. "It would be extremely costly to take every prospect up," Cole concluded. "We are not in the business of joy riding."

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