Drone Aerial Photography & Video for Real Estate — Is it time for me to fly?

drone-aerial-photography-video-real-estateMany of my clients want me to add Drone Aerial Photography & Video to my services — and understandably so. Aerial footage gives a rich and unique perspective to a special property like a lake home, an acreage property, a farm, or a home on a golf course.

Let me be clear, I am very interested in adding aerial photography & video to the suite of services I offer my clients. Aerial footage services are a natural add-on to my existing business, plus it would be a great convenience to my client base if I could take-care of all their photography & video marketing needs. Plus, I think it will be a lot of fun! I already have my drone set-up picked-out, I can have it delivered within days and be in-the-air for my clients after a couple of weeks of practice. BUT, its not that simple…

The bottom line is… it is illegal for me to fly
a drone for commercial purposes right now.

If you don’t believe me, please see for yourself — check-out:

There are articles out there that suggest the skies are open for Real Estate purposes, like this Zillow example, that has an opening sentence that reads:

“At long last, the FAA outlined rules for using drones and issued 500 permits for commercial use, with real estate businesses winning the lion’s share of them…”

This article fails to mention that the 500 permits issued carry the Section 333 requirement that to obtain a permit:

“you will need a pilot with an FAA airman certificate”

Let me say that in a different way… to be eligible for an FAA permit to fly a Drone for commercial use, YOU NEED TO BE A PILOT… that is a Pilot who flies real planes with a recreational or sport pilot certificate, as a minimum. Sorry folks, I don’t have a pilots license… nor am I willing to become a pilot so I can fly a Drone for you.

My understanding is the FAA is still working on their Commercial regulations for Unmanned Aircraft Services (UAS) — they were due to be released this September but that has been pushed back until Summer 2016. These regulations will address a number of issues like: registration, licensing, maximum drone weights, privacy, liability, not flying within 5 miles of airports etc… some of which has already been developed at KnowBeforeYouFly.org for recreational users.

It has been suggested that I could simply ignore the law and start flying drones for commercial purposes now, and wait for the law to catch-up. To be honest, that would probably work out ok… I would practice hard on my flying skills, I would be risk-adverse in my flying decisions (not flying in high-wind, dense areas, etc), and be firm with clients who wanted me to “get the shots” despite conditions that weren’t safe to fly in… but what if something went wrong? As Commercial Drone Flight remains illegal for me, I would have no liability insurance, no leg to stand on in a court-of-law. I would put my business and my family at financial risk, and my business’ exemplary reputation could also be questioned. The other aspect of this to consider is… if something went wrong, would my client —YOU who hired me to do the job — also be liable? Right now, the legal precedent is unclear but in many other contexts, the one contracting the job is also liable!

So, I hope you understand why I am going to wait until the FAA works this all out… then I plan on taking to the skies… If you have any questions, leave a comment or get in touch.


T: 574-383-9388

South Bend Realty Photo | Real Estate Photography + Floorplans | SouthBendRealtyPhoto.com

Author: Andrew Hughes

South Bend Realty Photo delivers professional Real Estate Photography, Floorplans, Virtual Tours & online Showcases and Custom Flyers to Realtors and Homeowners in the greater South Bend, IN area. Great Photos Help you Get Homes SOLD!

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