Although the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says Realtors may not yet legally fly unmanned aerial systems (drones) to take photos or videos of listings or neighborhoods, the time is coming. In recent years, the FAA has been going through the process of establishing the rules and regulations pertaining to aerial photography using drones, which is not a fast process, given that these are uncharted waters.
According to Jim Williams, manager of FAA’s UAS Integration Office, the agency’s administrator Michael Huerta is committed to quickly finalizing the federal rules for the commercial use of UAS in national airspace, which is currently prohibited.
Currently, Realtors can apply for a Section 333 waiver, allowing a limited-use permit which comes with many restrictions on the use of the drone. The FAA has received more than 1,200 waiver applications, approved 311, and is on track to approve 20 to 40 waivers each week.
So is everyone out buying drones?
In discussion with dozens of Realtors across America, we have learned that most are aware of the drone technology, but fewer know that there are restrictions, and likely will be in the future, even after the FAA makes it legal.
Predictably, the tech-forward brokers and agents are waiting with bated breath to hear the FAA’s final rules and incorporate drones into their marketing plan. Some are applying for the permit, others are waiting it out, but all eyes are on the burgeoning technology surrounding drone photography.
Fan favorite: the Lily Camera
When we covered the brand new Lily Camera which follows you around like a Hollywood film crew, the real estate industry was the most excited of all industries. One Realtor told us that they planned to purchase the camera because they could use it for personal and professional purposes, making it a more reasonable expense. Another expressed that doing rural property tours with a Lily would be a blast.
The prices of drones are going down as the market gets crowded, but the FAA will still emphasize safety and legal use, so the real estate industry is getting ready for that green light moment in various ways, some buying in now and others waiting.