Up, Up, & Away! Using Drones for Real Estate

Up, Up, & Away! Using Drones for Real Estate

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. When it comes to selling homes, having professional-grade pictures in your listings can be the springboard you need to achieve a sale. But with advances in photography and technology, the standard picture of each room is no longer enough. Potential home buyers want to get a true sense of a property without ever needing to step foot into it. That means excellent lighting conditions, home staging, panoramic pictures, videos – and using drones for real estate photography.re-drone-resized

Drone photography lets you capture aerial perspectives of a home, but without the need for a pilot and plane. Instead, you simply need a remote-controlled drone and camera equipment to get a real bird’s eye view of a property. But given that airspace is used by both commercial and private planes, having a drone, also known as an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), in that same airspace can cause safety issues and privacy concerns.

To address these concerns, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has recently indicated that they will ease the path to use drones for real estate by eliminating the need for a Section 333 waiver. By law, anyone wanting to operate any type of aircraft, including drones for real estate, required approval to operate in American airspace. However, the need for this approval created an excessive number of applications. To handle this situation, the FAA announced that it will no longer require the Section 333 waiver, making it easier for professionals to use drones for real estate. Keep in mind that certain restrictions and considerations are in place. These include:

  • To operate a drone, you need to obtain a remote pilot air flight certificate that has a small UAS rating. You can do this by successfully passing a specific flight knowledge exam at a testing center that is approved by the FAA.
  • You can operate in a Class G airspace without requiring the permission of air traffic control.
  • You are not supposed to fly your drone higher than 400 feet above the ground. However, in certain circumstances where you are allowed to fly your drone higher than 400 feet above the ground, the drone must remain within 400 feet of a structure.
  • Your drone cannot fly faster than 100 miles per hour.
  • You must be at least 16 years old to operate a drone.
  • The person responsible for flying the drone must have a constant visual line of sight of the drone at all times. Additionally, a second person, called a spotter, must also be able to see the drone at all times during flight.
  • The operator of the drone is not allowed to fly the craft over groups of people who are not directly or indirectly related to the activities of the drone, regardless if the people are outside, inside, or in a vehicle. This is to help ensure the safety of the general public.  

The aim of these changes is to strike a fair and reasonable balance with the changing needs of professionals, such as real estate agents, and the safety and well-being of individuals either on the ground and in the air. As technology changes, so will the needs of professionals and individuals, meaning that the FAA will continue to review their regulations to make sure that the needs of everyone are accounted for properly.

Using drones for real estate photography is an excellent and unique way to showcase a fantastic property. It offers an interesting perspective of the overall scale and shape of a home, demonstrates its privacy, and addresses the next domain when it comes to showing a home. With the updated FAA regulations coming into effect in August 2016, using drones for real estate will be easier and safer than ever.

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