Drone photography has changed the way that realtors market real estate. Affordable drone technology is now available to professional and amateur photographers alike, and the use of aerial photography is now a standard part of the real estate listing process. You finally land that big listing and you want to showcase the property using drone photography. Before you fire up that drone, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with drone regulations, as a mistake when using an eye in the sky could cost you a big piece of your commission pie. Here are a few of the most relevant considerations when using a drone for real estate purposes:
- Licensure: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule (14 C.F.R. Part 107) governs the use of drones in a commercial setting. Commercial use of a drone includes using a drone for real estate marketing or sales purposes. Commercial drone operators must obtain an FAA UAS (unmanned aircraft system) operator certificate in order to operate a drone commercially. A realtor who uses a drone to market properties without an FAA UAS operator certificate may be hit with fines by the FAA.
- Restricted areas: Local municipalities and the FAA may limit the use of drone photography in certain areas. If there are government buildings, airports, schools, or special events in the vicinity of your intended drone photography target, you’ll need to consult FAA maps to ensure you are not flying in a restricted airspace. Keep in mind, airports have restricted airspace that extends for up to five miles outside of the airport. Flying a drone in a restricted airspace can result in substantial fines from the FAA, and even jail time if you endanger an aircraft.
- Privacy: Various privacy laws may impact your ability to use a drone in the real estate sector. If you use a drone to photograph a property, it is wise to alert the neighboring property owners that you intend to use a drone for real estate photography purposes. Unwelcomed drones are frequently the basis for a claim of voyeurism or invasion of privacy. Depending on the circumstances, a neighboring property owner may have a reasonable expectation of privacy outside of their home, so the safest course of action is to only fly a drone over the target property and to avoid taking photographs of any neighboring properties.
- Insurance: If the wind picks up, and your drone crashes and damages a home, or worse, injures a bystander, you’ll likely find out that your standard professional insurance policy does not cover the such damages. This is one reason why it is wise to team up with a commercial drone operator who has liability coverage for just such an occasion.Drone use is “taking off” in the real estate sector, and drones can be a valuable tool for marketing properties. Drone-related laws are constantly changing as the technology evolves, so it is important to stay abreast of changes to the law. If you have questions regarding the use of drones in real estate, contact your real estate lawyer for up to date guidance.
Berlin Patten Ebling, PLLC
Article Authored by Benjamin T. DeMarsh, Esq. firstname.lastname@example.org
This communication is not intended to establish an attorney client relationship, and to the extent anything contained herein could be construed as legal advice or guidance, you are strongly encouraged to consult with your own attorney before relying upon any information contained herein.
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