In early 2017, the world was abuzz with news of Dubai creating a drone taxi service. It was planned to take off mid-2017, but there is still no sign of these drones flitting about the city’s glitzy skyline.
Flying taxis are nothing new – previously the stuff of science fiction, the mode of transportation has been on every inventor’s bucket list since man took to the skies. Even Uber is taking flight, with plans to start ‘air services’ by 2020.
While it is seen as a viable way to ease traffic congestion, it also poses more questions than answers, including potential regulations, implications for insurance law and also it’s impact on the property market.
With the imminent use of drones for transportation becoming a reality, there is a debate on how it would impact real estate owners and sellers. Much like the close proximity of an airport can effect a property’s marketability, drones constantly passing above real estate on pre-determined ‘air routes’ could also negatively impact the local market.
There would be a slew of liability issues to consider, with drones flying over or extremely close to properties there are serious risks of trespassing both from a physical and personal privacy viewpoint. The evolution of drones will push governments to implement tighter rules and regulations, with the property community front and centre in their considerations.
Much like how ride-sharing services have changed the way we hail taxis, drone taxis will revolutionise the urban landscape.
If manufacturers can gain the trust of consumers in the same way tech firms like AirBnB have in the accommodation market, there will be a nosedive in car demand and, notably, car parking spaces. In their place would be new pick-up/drop-off landing areas for the drone taxis.
Future investors and buyers could be looking for properties that are near landing areas – accessibility will be key, much like being near a tube stop or train terminal is of prime importance today. We could even see a new ‘proximity to landing point’ search filter on Rightmove or Zoopla.
Conversely, there will be a part of the market that prefers staying as far away from the noise and the hazards of drones taxi’s coming and going as they can. Similar to Londoner’s exiling the city for more space and quiet, there could be a migration from ‘drone-heavy’ areas too.
It’s also important to remember that our roads were created with land transportation in mind. Legalising regular drone taxis would cause quite the headache for commuters if there’s no formalised air traffic laws in place – road infrastructure would remain linear, even as mass transportation heads for the skies.
Whether the inevitable emergence of drone taxi’s drives property prices up or down is debatable; there’s a strong argument that a property’s proximity to landing areas could have the largest impact, both on the up and down side.
With ongoing advances in the technology necessary to fully equip these drones, the expectation of being able to ferry passengers on short distance journey’s has moved from possible to probable.
The real estate community should take stock and prepare themselves for changes that could materially disrupt the entire market – from agents to developers to investors and beyond.
Joanne Davidson is a seasoned writer who has worked with several clients across advertising, online marketing, technology, healthcare and more. She is also an aspiring entrepreneur who is engaged in assisting other aspiring entrepreneurs helping property owners who encounter problems with the vacancy of their buildings via her company Lowe Guardians.