January 13th, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Thinking about using drones to elevate your real estate marketing efforts to the next level, but unsure if you should due to the fog of regulations surrounding them? You could be cleared for takeoff soon.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) just granted an exemption to an associate broker agent in Tucson, Ariz., authorizing him to operate his camera-equipped quadracopter to “enhance real estate listing videos and generate academic community awareness.” He will remain subject to flight rules and policies, including a requirement to obtain airman certification.

This is the first time the FAA has given its OK to use drone technology to market properties from a bird’s-eye perspective. The agency currently prohibits commercial use of drones higher than 400 feet. But the regulatory landscape is changing, which could bode well for agents who want to produce aerial video tours of properties or hire other firms to create them.

Applicants must ensure the airspace for their proposed operations is safe, and that they’ve taken the right steps to see and avoid other aircraft. Drones, or unmanned aerial systems (UAS), don’t need an FAA-issued certificate of airworthiness as they pose no threat to national airspace users or national security, according to the agency. Pilots must have an FAA private pilot certificate and a current medical certificate, and the UAS must remain in sight.

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has recommended that members not use drones for any purpose related to selling property. But even that recommendation is in a state of flux. For the most current news and updates on the subject, visit the NAR’s Field Guide to Drones and Real Estate.

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