Friday
October 24, 2014

Drones Used for Real Estate Photos Could Be Grounded

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Drones Used for Real Estate Photos Could Be Grounded

If you’re a real estate practitioner using model aircraft – also known as drones – to take photos or video of a property you’re trying to sell, you might want to think twice.

Read more: FAA’s authority to regulate drones.

The Federal Aviation Administration released its interpretation of model aircraft use this week, and it says that “a REALTOR® using a model aircraft to photograph a property that he (or she) is trying to sell and using the photos in the property's real estate listing does not constitute hobby or recreational use.” This means real estate professionals could be subject to FAA’s safety and designated airspace enforcement as well as future rulemaking.

What’s more, the FAA’s interpretation also states that “a person photographing a property or event and selling the photos to someone else” does not qualify for the hobby or recreation exemption. This affects photographers hired by agents or brokers to shoot aerial photos of a property.

Drones in real estate:

The popularity of drones has become a growing trend in real estate with the technology of unmanned aircraft becoming more affordable, as well as the increased capacity of high-resolution photos and video from lightweight cameras.

However, all civil aircraft are subject to FAA regulation under U.S. law. Currently, the commercial use of drones is only permissible on a case-by-case basis, and an FAA certificate of airworthiness is required.

The FAA is currently developing a system for integrating commercial use drones into the national airspace. NAR, alongside a broad coalition of stakeholders, is working with the FAA to expedite the development of rules to allow real estate professionals to utilize drone technology to market properties, says Russell Riggs, NAR's senior regulatory policy representative.

FAA's interpretation is open for public comment through July 25, 2014, and the agency “may modify this interpretation based on comments received.”

FAA’s examples of flights:

Hobby or recreation

Not hobby or recreation

Flying a model aircraft at the local model aircraft club.

Receiving money for demonstrating aerobatics with a model aircraft.

Taking photographs with a model aircraft for personal use.

A realtor using a model aircraft to photograph a property that he is trying to sell and using the photos in the property's real estate listing. A person photographing a property or event and selling the photos to someone else.

Using a model aircraft to move a box from point to point without any kind of compensation.

Delivering packages to people for a fee. 

Viewing a field to determine whether crops need water when they are grown for personal enjoyment.

Determining whether crops need to be watered that are grown as part of commercial farming operation.

Source: faa.gov

–Erica Christoffer, REALTOR® Magazine