Doing a simple search on YouTube will bring up some really cool footage of what drones can do for showcasing a home. Drones have become a “trendy” technology lately. Check out the YouTube video below to see what everyone is talking about.
Footage like this will definitely enhance the value of the home and can set you apart from the competition. But at what risk? Have you thought about legal issues with drones? Insurance? Cost? The grey area between the commercial use of drones and FAA is a nightmare. Here are things to consider when your real estate agent is getting drone footage of your property.
Um…Is This legal?
A true legal aerial photographer must have a proper FAA waiver to operate drones, its called a Section 333 waiver. And last time we heard, the FAA has only given out a few thousand of these waivers to people who can operate drones for commercial use. Many people who claim to be operating “legally” actually are not. They are just playing with the grey area of the law. Ask questions to your agent about the company/person they are using to get the footage. The last thing you want is the agent do go behind your back and hire someone who is not qualified!
Getting a Section 333 waiver from the FAA requires:
- Waiting (however recent changes show the FAA handing out 50 333’s a week)
- Filling out an application
- An FAA issued pilots license
What if I hire someone that does not have a Section 333 waiver? Am I legally responsible? According to Realtor.org:
The FAA’s mission is the protection of national airspace and the safe operation of aircraft. As such, the FAA’s enforcement efforts with respect to UAS are focused on the UAS operator and the safety of the flight. Therefore, an impermissible or careless or reckless operation of a UAS could result in an FAA enforcement action against the UAS operator. However, beyond FAA enforcement, a real estate professional could be the subject of legal risk under state law if an individual is injured or an individual’s privacy or property rights are infringed upon as a result of the UAS operation.
Hiring a non legal free lancer to save a few bucks might put you in more trouble than its worth.
The FAA and the limit on the commercial use of drones is real headache for smaller companies and entrepreneurs. They are effective in providing services that would often require a manned aircraft. The use of drones offers real advantages in roof inspections, property management, insurance inspections, mapping, appraisals and other real estate related services. However, the technology and the current laws are not quite allowing these to be profitable or worth the time to get through all the hurdles. At this point, lots of smaller companies have to wait and hope for different rule changes or drop the job all together. Currently the rules favor only big players profiting from drone work.
The reality about drone use right now is they generally only offer benefits for large upscale listings with lots of land, waterfront, and beautiful views. Hiring a company to do drone footage of your properties for an average home does not seem like the most cost effective method of selling your listings. However, if you deal with luxury homes with million dollar listings, it could be well worth your time. It is probably difficult to find a real estate company to do drone footage if your house is not hitting a certain value. However, it does not hurt to ask!
If you plan to hire a company with a drone or take it on yourself, make sure you are aware of your insurance options and anything you can do to minimize risk. Its a new technology ,lots of uncertain rules and regulations surrounding drones.
A recent article in the REALTOR Mag talks about this in more detail, the article can be found here. It essentially asks the question, if you hire someone to do aerial work with a drone (has a 333 exemption) are you covered if the drone hits someone or causes property damage. This being such a new technology in real estate, you can’t just assume your coverage or your brokerages policy is going to protect you.