Drone with camera - Commercial Real Estate photography

Drone with camera - Commercial Real Estate photography

Ever since drone technology has been made available to the public, real estate has been awaiting the day when they no longer have to hire airplanes and helicopters to get aerial shots of the land they want to sell. That day is drawing nearer - the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently gave an Arizona commercial real estate agent permission to fly his drone for the purposes of aerial photography.


Permission Granted

Tierra Antigua Realty's agent Douglas Trudeau is now officially the only real estate agent certified by the FAA to operate a drone for aerial photography purposes, and received his permission on January 6th, 2015. While the FAA has very little published legislation on the using drones commercially, technically all photos taken with the help of a drone for profit are illegal.

That's not to say that real estate agents haven't been taking advantage of drones to take aerial shots of the real estate they have for sale - take a look at your local multi listing service provider and you're more than likely to see aerial shots that probably didn't come from someone in an airplane or a helicopter.

And the current license that Trudeau has isn't exactly user-friendly, either. The license stipulates that while using the drone for commercial purposes, he must:

  • Have an observer with him while he pilots his drone
  • Have the FAA's "Private Pilot" certification
  • Have a medical certificate that is current
  • Keep the drone in line of sight at all times during the flight


Drones for Aerial Real Estate Photography

Despite all the crazy FAA stipulations, Trudeau's story is still great news for real estate agencies who also might want to be able to officially use drones for their aerial shots. Even with the high prices of drones these days, it's still significantly cheaper to buy a new drone than to hire a helicopter or airplane to take aerial shots.

Drones are slated to be used for:

  • Encompassing shots of properties
  • Views of the neighborhood as a whole
  • Surveys of potential properties

Certification isn't set to be permitted anytime soon, but companies seeking to use drones for commercial purposes are more than welcome to apply for exemptions. The FAA already has a couple hundred exemption requests. The more requests they get, the sooner legislation will be set into place.


FAA Concerns

At this point there is no formal legislation on the use of drones, commercially or privately - even unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have only guidelines rather than hard legislation. The published guidelines on their website state what common sense proclaims as obvious:

  • Don't use drones where they can interfere with commercial planes
  • Don't endanger other people's physical safety
  • Don't let the drone leave the operator's line of sight

Any further legislation and certification will surely further elaborate on those points. Drones have to be used safely, cannot invade other people's privacy, and shouldn't otherwise disturb local residents.

Disturbance can be accounted for by way of excessive noise, inappropriate content, or simply poor timing. Without formal legislation, it's imperative that drone users (especially those using drones for commercial purposes) adhere to common sense and are especially considerate and courteous.