Whether you call them a drone, UAV, or UAS – these tech toys are still a hot ticket. The potential opportunities of drones in real estate (video, aerial photography) must be viewed alongside the regulatory hoops you will need to get one in the air.
Both Transport Canada and the Federal Aviation Administration have tight regulations on commercial drone use and are actively fining real estate agents and videographers for unlicensed commercial use and endangering the populace. Nevertheless, of the first 1,000 commercial exemptions authorized by the FAA, 350 were for the real estate sector.
The FAA’s December 2015 Guide to Drones
The Drone/UAV Market and Realtors
Estimates for 2015 suggest 400,000 to over 1.5 million were sold in 2015 and industry experts expect a 30-50% growth rate for 2016. The FAA is projecting that the number of active drones in America will reach 7 million by 2020. Air space is going to get crowded quickly and a good chunk of those flying will be real estate agents.
“Nearly 20 percent of realtors who aren’t already using drones said they plan to use them in the future, according to a recently released National Association of Realtors survey” – DroneLife.com, May 20, 2016.
The Regulations – Canada
Transport Canada has opted for looser regulatory requirements than their USA counterparts. If the drone is under 25kg (you can shoot gorgeous, steady footage on sub-25kg drones), you just need to register the relevant data and meet their exemption criteria which includes restrictions on flight paths and the need to take out liability insurance. Those choosing to fly larger drones need to go through Special Flight Operations Certification.
RealEstateTechies.com – Drones in Real Estate
The Regulations – USA
Walter Davis Hall (video – right) is one of the real estate agents who has embraced his fascination with drones. When he bought his first modern drone, he did the research and learned just how easy it would be to get fined by the FAA.
“If I was promoting myself, whatsoever… if I was doing it for free …it was illegal. If it was helping somebody that I was in business with – still illegal!”
The FAA’s Section 333 exemption program is much more conservative than Canada’s – it requires a specific pilot’s license, insurance, and a 120 day+ wait for requests to be processed. NAR has been cooperating with the FAA to address their concerns over the restrictiveness of the regulations and has been actively lobbying Congress and other agencies.
DroneLife.com is expecting changes soon that will allow more realtors to embrace this space. Among their 7 point guide to the proposed Part 107 change, they expect the $7,000 pilot’s license to be changed to a $300 sUAS certificate program