Drones in Real Estate

Drones in real estate..What did we ever do without them? These little remote-controlled “helis” have been a lot of fun but have also really proven to be a valuable tool in various businesses! I have really enjoyed using ours for real estate! Recently mandates were made by the FAA for all commercial use.  I already hold a private pilot certification, which allows me to fly single-engine aircrafts so I just finished the certification courses and VIOLA, done!

What does the FAA say about drones?

Prior to 2015-16 drones were becoming a hot new tool for marketing real estate (and other industries) as well as a popular new toy that people couldn’t get their hands on fast enough. The use of drones has been extremely helpful but often they are unsafe or unwanted! As a real estate agent,  the idea of using drones to capture and display the unique Hill Country properties is exciting but I wanted to respect the airspace we operate in, as well as privacy for those being photographed.  Sellers (and agents) should be mindful of rules and regulations when using a drone to market properties.

Here are a few key things you need to know about using drones when selling real estate (for more information, see FAA Regulation Part 107, which was released in June, 2016.):

  • a FAA UAV operator’s certificate is required to fly a camera drone for real estate marketing – even if funds aren’t changing hands. The requirements for the obtaining the UAV Operator’s certificate require the operator to pass the private pilot written exam, as well as the unmanned certification. If your agent is using a drone to capture aerial images, you might want to ask them if they have their certification.
  • all drones must operate under 400 feet; if flying over tall buildings, they may not fly higher than 400 feet above the building
  • never fly near airports
  • you may only fly during daylight hours (30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset); if flying in twilight, you must have easily visible anti-collision lighting
  • no operation from a moving vehicle are allowed, unless you are flying over a sparsely populated are

These are just a few things that are required by the FAA. It important for both the operator and the property owner to know and follow the rules.

What else do you need to know?

Any drone weighing more than 0.55 pounds should be registered with the FAA, regardless if its for personal or commercial use.  Read more about drone registration…

Crashes happen! New or amateur pilots will find that weather conditions, low visibility from trees, wind and sun can effect how the drone files. If you can’t see your drone, a pilot could hit a power line or other low lying cable. Operator error can also be the cause of serious crashes. Flying takes practice and an aeronautical know-how. Using an experienced operator can typically keep everyone safe and free from unwarranted crashes.

Here are a few examples of aerial photos I’ve taken of my listings! What a great way to capture some of the amazing views we have in the Hill Country!






In addition to still photos, I can also capture video of the property and then produce a nice listing presentation for potential buyers. Drones are great – we just need to make sure we’re using them wisely and SAFELY! Please visit any of the FAA sites noted above for more information and specific requirements.