FAA Licensing for Drone Real Estate Photography

Drones are unmanned aircraft system (UAS) that are increasingly becoming popular among photographers and real estate agents. Photo shots and videos from drone real estate photography work excellently in showing potential buyers an encompassing aerial view of certain properties.
Using drones for aerial photography is less costly than hiring helicopters or airplanes to take aerial shots. For the cost of a day’s aerial shot using a plane, real estate agents can already purchase a high-end camera drone that can shoot stills and record HD video from various perspectives. Of course, learning to pilot the drone is necessary, as well as getting familiar with the FAA regulations regarding UAS.

If you plan to do your own drone real estate photography, a high-end camera drone equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) and smart features is desirable. The learning curve for AI-equipped drones is less steep because the drone can manage autonomous flights using GPS navigation system and collision avoidance software. You can program the drone to shoot stills and video, then edit and share the shots to your potential buyers.

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Drone real estate photography encompasses not only the entire property and surrounding lands. It also shows aerial shots of the neighborhood and the surrounding area, and label amenities such as nearby shopping centers, hospitals and schools. While you may initially require help from an experienced drone pilot or hobbyist, learning how to pilot the drone and do your own photography will serve you well when you get new listings.
To obtain aerial shots for new property listings, you only need to charge the batteries of your drone. Depending on the size of the property and the extent of drone real estate photography that you plan to do, it is best to have extra, fully charged batteries to use when a battery set has been depleted. Drones are powered by Lithium polymer (Li-po) batteries with flying times that range from 15 to 30 minutes. Since the charging time for these batteries take about an hour, having an extra set enables you to finish taking aerial photographs faster.

If you are seriously considering the use of drones, you have to learn the FAA rules regarding the use of UAS and secure a license in accordance with Part 107 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. Implemented in August 29, 2016, the FAA rule requires commercial drone pilots to secure a license called the FAA airman certificate. It is best to secure an exemption under Section 333 in order to get authorization to pilot the drone under a 24-month licensing window.

FAA UAV pilot certification

The licensing under Part 107 of the FAA rules is a lengthy process. It requires applicants to pass an aeronautical knowledge test, obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate with a small UAS rating, and submit the small UAS for FAA inspection or testing when required. This lengthy process should not deter you from earning a license because top real estate businessmen believe that drone real estate photography will be the norm in future real estate transactions.
The FAA licensing is a complicated process that the national association of Realtors (NAR) is requesting to be streamlined. The NAR has issued a FAQ in 2015 to provide real estate agents practical guides in the use of drones.