What is the fundamental issue?
Technological advances have made it cost effective to take pictures and videos from drones, aka Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Real estate professionals are very interested in using this new technology to take videos and pictures to create dynamic marketing pieces for property listings. However, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibits any commercial use of UAVs until regulations are created that protect safety, privacy and national security.
I am a real estate professional. What does this mean for my business?
Creating marketing information for a listing by using pictures and videos taken by UAVs could be a game changer. UAVs provide a completely new and different perspective of the property and allow the agent to add value to the real estate transaction. The FAA’s prohibition is preventing agents from utilizing all the tools and technology at their disposal to sell a property.
The National Association of REALTORS® advises members that the use of unmanned aerial vehicles for real estate marketing is currently prohibited by the Federal Aviation Administration. Such prohibited use of unmanned aerial vehicles may lead to the assessment of substantial fines and penalties.
The National Association of REALTORS® supports efforts to create new federal regulations to allow for the future commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicle technology by the real estate industry.
The National Association of REALTORS® is committed to working with the Federal Aviation Administration, and any other relevant federal agencies, during the regulatory approval process. The National Association of REALTORS® will continue its ongoing efforts to educate REALTORS® about the current and future regulatory structure for the safe and responsible operation of unmanned aerial vehicles.
Access to the national airspace must be protected at all costs. Increased use of UAVs will reduce safety and increase threats to individual privacy and property rights.
The FAA Modernization Act of 2012 charged the FAA to develop a regulatory framework by 2015 that would integrate UAVs into the national airspace, while ensuring safety, privacy and national security. The FAA is on track to develop these regulations within the statutory timeframe. NAR submitted comments to the FAA on September 23, 2014 to encourage the FAA to quickly act in creating a regulatory framework. In addition, NAR will continue to engage the FAA to make sure they understand how our members can use this technology safely and responsibly and how it can add value to the real estate transaction.
Read letter here.
On November 17, 2014, a four member panel of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) ruled that unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, are subject to FAA jurisdiction and enforcement. The panel reviewed and reversed the decision made by an Administrative Law Judge in the case of Huerta v. Pirker, a landmark case involving the commercial use of drones. The initial ruling in the case had the court siding with defendant Pirker, who was appealing a $10,000 fine from the FAA, arguing that since the drone used was not an aircraft, the activities were not subject to FAA enforcement. The FAA appealed the decision, and the NTSB review panel sided with the FAA, saying that the machine is an aircraft and is therefore subject to FAA enforcement action.
In February 2015, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) solicited comments on Privacy, Transparency, and Accountability Regarding Commercial and Private Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). NAR submitted a comment letter in April 2015 addressing many issues in dealing with privacy challenges in using UAS technology in real estate. The comments focused on NAR’s commitment to honoring citizen privacy rights and espousing best practices for privacy in UAS use. NAR also expressed interest in working alongside the NTIA and other regulators to create industry standards for privacy.
Also in February 2015,the Federal Aviation Administration released its proposed rule. In April 2015, NAR submitted a comment letter in response to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s proposed rule on the Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). The proposed rule would govern the operations of UAS weighing 55 lbs or less. NAR’s letter mostly supported the FAA’s proposal, and asked for more information or refinement on a few topics. In general, the FAA’s proposal contains reasonable, common-sense precautions for integrating UAS into the National Air Space (NAS). NAR’s queries focused on UAS use specific to real estate. NAR also expressed its willingness to continue working with the FAA to create its rules and communicate with the UAS user community about them.