Helirealtors: The house-hunting craze that’s taking off

Ever struggled to find a house you like because of all the other buildings in the way? Then the new craze sweeping the USA’s luxury real estate market is for you: house-hunting… by helicopter.

The new aerial arm of the estate agent world is really taking off, say firms in America, as a growing number of wealthy clients choose to do away with touring properties on the ground like common buyers and instead decide to survey their desired estate from the sky like a god.

It is in the last two years that it has really found momentum, Quintessentially Estates tells CNN. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is also the window during which Chinese investors have become an increasingly prominent part of the global property landscape.

Indeed, while the sight of a helicopter surveying the properties of Hong Kong Islnd may be relatively familiar, investors are using helirealtors to gain a fresh perspective of properties in other popular destinations, such as Florida.

$2,000 an hour is the going rate for the firm, although compared to the $27.3 billion spent on US real estate in the year to March 2016 by Chinese investors, according to the National Association of Realtors, that is but a drop in the ocean – hundreds of feet below your private helicopter.

Quintessential has started the service on the continent too.

“The Chinese are on a buying splurge of wine estates in Bordeaux, because they love the local wine, and French chateaus are popular, too,” Iain Brand of the firm tells the news agency. “We did a big search last summer for a mainland Chinese buyer in France. The client had a budget of 30 million euros ($33.4 million) for a wine estate of 30,000 hectares. He wanted a specific twin-turbo-style helicopter. It’s a lot safer — if one engine fails, you also have another — and there’s bigger cabin space.”

The practicalities are surprisingly logical, as it allows investors to assess land on a large scale, including the topography and proximity to other estates and airports, plus view multiple estates in a single session, even when they are far apart.

“When you’re that wealthy, it’s cheaper to save time than to be out of the office for days doing endless viewings by car,” Brand adds.

“If you’re buying a penthouse in a new construction that hasn’t been built yet, it’s hard to imagine the view from that level,” says another pilot-turned-realtor, who specialises in the Miami area. “I can fly clients to the penthouse level, to visualize that view. They get a kick out of that.”

The champagne in the cabin and private lunch stops? Those are just a bonus.

Photo: CityofStPete