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Use a professional Licensed Pilot FOR REAL ESTATE PHOTOGRAPHY

13 Apr 2017

Using a professional Licensed Part 107 Pilot:

Many Realtors haven't been familiar with the fact that it now illegal to use a drone without a commercial Pilots Licence, whether it be for taken pictures, creating a video, Since of Aug 31, 2016, the FAA has released a new Regulation making it legal for a Commercial use of Flying Drones. 

Realtors and other commercial drone operators “are subject to all existing FAA regulations, as well as future rule-making action,” the FAA said.

So unless you or your Drone Pilot are not a Part 107 Commercial Licensed, you and the pilot can be subject to fines ranging between $1,100 and $2,200.

The Drone Pilot will be exempted from being able to obtain a commercial license for over a year.

A Realtor can lose their realtor license and placed on the FAA Blacklist.

Claiming To Be A Realtor: 

Picture someone claiming there a Realtor and they are listing a home for sale, which happens to be in your area, would it be fair to you as a Licensed Realtor for them to be posing as a Realtor, which they may not have the experience and knowledge of selling a home.


One common claim made in this context is that of fraud. In most cases, fraud requires showing that the real estate agent had the intent to defraud, deceive or misrepresent facts to the detriment of the plaintiff. This may be an affirmative action such as telling a lie, or it may be a fraud by omitting certain information. Some states have laws or case law regarding a concept called constructive fraud, which is when the real estate agent gains an unfair advantage by using deceitful or unfair methods. An intent is not required in these cases.

Fraud may arise when the real estate agent knew that information in a listing was incorrect, such as the square footage of the home, but still maintained this information was true. Fraud can also result when the real estate agent new about damage to the property or a termite infestation and failed to disclose this information to his or her clients. Additionally, fraud may lie when the real estate agent knew about future development plans and failed to disclose this information to the plaintiff in order to only look out for his or her own interests. 

Breach of Contract

Another claim that is common within this context is a breach of contract claim. This legal claim asserts that the real estate agent violated the contract between the agent and the plaintiff. Normally, a real estate agent would not be sued for breach of contract under the real estate contract because he or she is not usually a party to the contract. However, he or she may be sued for violating the broker’s agreement or another contract. 

Breach of Duty

A breach of duty claim may arise in conjunction with a breach of contract claim. A real estate agent has a fiduciary duty to act in his or her clients’ best interests. This requires the agent to zealously represent the client even if doing so would result in a lower fee for himself or herself since the client’s needs are paramount to the agent’s own. 

Additionally, maintaining this duty of care requires the agent to act with all of his or her skill, care, and diligence in his or her representation of the client. A breach of duty claim may arise when the real estate agent fails to disclose important information to the client, such as an ongoing feud with a neighbor or a known encumbrance on the property. 


A common claim in civil cases, in general, is negligence. This legal claim asserts that the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff but breached this duty. As a result, the breach caused the plaintiff to suffer some harm. In the real estate context, the duty may be expressly provided in the contract. In contrast, it can be a general duty of care that the real estate agent was expected to exhibit given his or her relationship with the plaintiff. 

Negligence is a legal theory that is not based upon the intent of the defendant. Instead, it can rest on the theory that the real estate agent should have known that there was a defect and accidentally forgot to disclose it. 

Identifying Defendant

When a plaintiff has suffered an injury or economic damage due to the acts or omissions of a real estate agent, he or she may begin identifying people or entities that share in the legal liability. The first named defendant is often the real estate agent. However, other parties may share legal responsibility, depending on the circumstances of the case. 

For example, real estate agents may be hired by real estate firms or brokerage companies. Employers may be liable for the conduct of their employees. Additionally, employers or other parties may have the real estate broker act as their representative, which may subject them to liability. 


Due to the potential for expensive litigation, some insurance companies offer a type of insurance that is similar to malpractice insurance. This type of insurance is usually referred to as “Errors and Omissions” insurance and includes coverage for instances when real estate agents make contract errors, make mistakes related to the value of the property, make mistakes in the escrow process, make errors related to the structure, sewer, well, moisture or title issues. This type of insurance does not cover intentional conduct, such as fraud.


Using Drones For Real Estate Photography or Videography:

The FAA is still hashing out its rules for using drones but has released some stop-gap measures to regulate drones until those rules are finalized. To date the FAA has issued more than 5,300 permits for commercial use; approximately 2,100 (39 percent) of them were granted to real estate-related companies. The agency anticipates real estate to comprise about 22 percent of the top markets, with the most popular application being aerial videos that showcase homes. 

You might be asking yourself if using drones in your real estate business is viable — even necessary — to stay competitive or if it’s just a flash in the pan. Whatever you decide, drones are shaping up to be the next evolution in real estate marketing. 

Here are a few things to think about if you’re considering drones for your real estate photography.

Drones have more uses than you realize

Drones — also known as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) — are typically associated with military applications. For real estate agents, however, drone photography can show potential buyers a variety of details, including: 

  • Encompassing aerial views of the entire property and land
  • What the drive home or the kids’ walk to school looks like
  • The neighborhood and surrounding area, including the home’s proximity to amenities
  • Civic developments or local improvement districts (LIDs) that the buyer’s property taxes might contribute to
  • Property maps and surveys

Drones make elevated imagery affordable

Many real estate agents obtain elevated photography using airplanes and helicopters, which can cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars per flight and limit the number of properties you can afford to shoot. Drones can significantly cut the cost of shooting elevated imagery — viable models start at a few hundred dollars, and camera attachments are similarly moderately priced — and enable you to use their aerial footage on many more listings, regardless of price range. 

Depending on your equipment setup, drones can shoot stills, video or both. You can edit and share the video using a number of tools and without extensive experience or expertise. Drone operation mostly requires a steady hand and a cool head — no need to hire a professional pilot. And even if you do choose to outsource your drone photography, it might still be less expensive than hiring an airplane or helicopter.

There are already strict rules to follow

The idea of drones buzzing around your head or taking illicit footage of you through your window is disturbing and not lost on the FAA. The agency has already released a process for users to start legally using drones and provided operational guidelines and common sense rules.


To start the process for commercial drone (or other UAS) operation, users must now apply for their Part 107 Commercial Pilots Licence

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Be able to read, speak, write, and understand English (exceptions may be made if the person is unable to meet one of these requirements for a medical reason, such as hearing impairment)
  • Be in a physical and mental condition to safely operate a small UAS
  • Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge exam at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center


Drone operators must be 13 years or older and take a lesson before flying. Their UAS must weigh less than 55 pounds. Operators must fly under 400 feet — plenty of height to capture a home’s features — and only during daytime, keeping the drone within sight.

No-drone zones

In general real estate use, you’ll most likely stick to residential areas, but there are some places you should be aware of where UASs are strictly prohibited. These include sports stadiums and racetracks, papal visits, the District of Columbia, forest fires and less than five miles from any airport. Operators must also keep their drones away from children and animals.


It’s been an uphill battle for real estate professionals to get everyone on board with using drones for their industry, so keep the goodwill going by becoming a drone ambassador and, no pun intended, rise above those whose behavior can curtail UAS use for everyone.

  • Ask homeowners for permission before you launch your drone.
  • Don’t fly over any private property without asking first.
  • Avoid flying over crowds of people.
  • Read the manual and take every opportunity to practice.
  • Don’t let animals or kids chase the drone.

The FAA’s official guidelines will address specific concerns regarding:

  • Privacy: Even though the seller grants you permission to obtain drone footage of their home for your marketing purposes, how will you deal with neighbors who might feel under the microscope as well?
  • Safety: What happens if a home you need photography for is located near an airport — a FAA designated no-drone space with heavy fines for violation?
  • Noise: How will drone operation be governed so that their noise doesn’t interfere with life at ground level?

Until the FAA releases its guidelines, users can view a list of its proposed UAS rules in the meantime.

Drones are here to stay

Drones are already in the sky — being used for a variety of applications, including law enforcement, telecommunications, weather monitoring and more — and they’re going to stay there. The FAA is currently issuing permits at a rate of more than 500 per month and is using summary grants to speed up exemption approvals — with photography being 50 percent of the usage requests — and predicts sales of commercial small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) to jump from 600,000 units to 2.5 million in the next year. 

A study by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) estimates that integrating drones into the national airspace will generate more than $13.6 billion and create more than 70,000 new jobs in the first three years of integration. AUVSI also projects that tax revenues to states will exceed $482 million in the first 11 years of integration and that states with flourishing aerospace industries will benefit the most from drone integration. 

Using drones for real estate photography will become increasingly common as agents ask the FAA to issue more permits and hash out the guidelines for commercial use. No matter what rules are in place, using drones will spark some degree of controversy, but there’s no rebottling that genie. Once federal, state and industrial organizations agree on the major points, drone adoption and operation will quickly escalate. If you’re considering using drones for real estate photography, be ready for it: You might be the first in your area to offer clients that service, making you stand out from the competition while adding a serious wow factor to your marketing.

Last Modified: Thursday 13 April 2017 10:11
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