It’s that time of year again when the days are getting longer, skirts are getting shorter and against the clear blue sky you see … DRONES, lots of DRONES!
Love them or hate them, drones are here to stay and as a Realtor they are a powerful marketing tool for you to have in your arsenal.
The ability to easily and affordably shoot aerial video footage of your listings gives you a great marketing advantage over your competitors. In fact, according to N.A.R. 73% of home sellers would prefer to work with an agent that uses video to market their listings.
Things to Know Before You Drone
But before you run out and buy a drone or consider hiring someone do to aerial video for you, there are things you need to know that can seriously impact you and your clients both financially and legally.
Think Vicarious Liability … we’ll look at this in more detail in a moment.
If you purchase a drone for commercial use, even before you fly it, you must first register it with the FAA. Failure to do so could results in a hefty fine in the thousands of dollars.
Now before you say you include this service in your listing package so you don’t actually collect a fee, from the FAA’s perspective that video is being used for marketing purposes and therefore deemed commercial.
The next thing you’ll need is an FAA-issued “UAS Operator Certificate” … UAS stands for Unmanned Aerial System.
Here are some of the requirements:
- 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.
Although drones look like cool little toys keep in mind that their propellers are spinning at about 10,000 RPM and like any object falling from space, can cause some serious damage to property and people.
With that in mind you will need to carry some sort of liability insurance just in case little Timmy from next door losses an ear because you lost control of your drone.
Earlier I made reference to the term “Vicarious Liability” and this is where your seller comes into the picture.
If during the operation of your drone something goes wrong, let’s say you lose control and it crashes through the neighbor’s window, then obviously they will be coming after you for damages. But since you are an agent of your brokerage, they can also go after your broker … and since the brokerage is employed by your seller …. you guessed it, they can go after your seller too!
That’s why liability insurance is not only a good idea, it’s a must-have.
Regulations When Flying
Liability aside you also need to be aware of the FAA regulations when it comes to flying your drone, for example:
- always avoid manned aircraft.
- never fly near airports.
- all drones must operate under 400 feet; if flying over tall buildings, they may not fly higher than 400 feet above the building.
- maximum speed allowed is 100 mph (87 knots).
- always fly via line-of-sight (no flying behind buildings or out of your clear eyesight, EVER).
- You cannot fly over populated areas or people unless:
- they are directly participating in the operation.
- under a covered structure.
- inside a covered stationary vehicle.
So you may now be thinking that operating a drone is just too much of a hassle. It might make more sense to hire someone to do this for you, but keep in mind the same rules apply to them.
So before you hire a drone service here are some of the things you should ask:
- Are they FAA commercially licensed?
- Do they carry liability insurance?
- Do they have references?
As I said in the very beginning, drones are a great way to market your listings and to help you stand out from the competition. But make sure you are doing so responsibly for your sake and your client’s.