Never ones to sit behind the 8 ball, the real estate industry has taken to drones with alacrity: agencies are using them to snap aerial property photos and videos for their listings. While it surely costs less than hiring a commercial photographer and a helicopter, the Federal Aviation Administration has issued a notice: The agents must be FAA-certified in order to keep doing this.
In other words, unlike hobbyists who fly model airplanes, without certification Jeff “City” Block can’t just hop over to Rittenhouse Square and launch a drone in the air himself, nor can he hire a company that sends the drones up for him. This is because taking photos for listings is considered a commercial endeavor, not a hobby — which I think most realtors would agree with unless their leisure pursuits need a serious overhaul.
Here's a drone real estate video by Silicon Valley Drones:
You have to feel sorry for the FAA, which seems to have no credibility on this subject at all. Inman's Teke Wiggin writes:
In March, National Transportation Safety Board Administrative Law Judge Patrick Geraghty dismissed the FAA’s case against the only person it has attempted to fine for drone use so far. Geraghty ruled that FAA policy notices governing commercial operation of drones were not produced through a formal rule-making process.
But the FAA immediately appealed the ruling, which it said had the effect of staying Geraghty’s decision as it undertakes a formal rule-making process to develop rules that will govern commercial drone operators.
As a result of this confusion, Wiggin says, "Some drone pilots have been operating under the mistaken assumption that the FAA had lost its authority to regulate commercial drone flights."
While some realtors might want to use drones, it's not at all a universal desire (and I should note that Jeff "City" Block does not use drones, and probably doesn't want to). In fact, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) currently advises its members to eschew the use of drones and drone companies.