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Realtors Now Working With FAA On Drones

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The National Association of Realtors is now working with the FAA to educate the agency about safe and responsible uses of drones. The news suggests that the agency may be willing to allow for limited use of drones by realtors, perhaps indicating that the agency may modify their prior position which declared that commercial uses of drones (including the use of drones by realtors) is unlawful.

I previously wrote about how the FAA’s actions succeeded in intimidating NRT —the nation’s largest residential real estate brokerage company — into advising their members to not only cease flying drones as part of their work, but to also cease using drone footage. While the use of drones for commercial purposes is prohibited by the FAA, the use of images or video from drones is not prohibited by the agency which only has jurisdiction over air space, not over the use of footage. Nevertheles, NRT, fearing FAA action (they referred to the FAA’s stance as “aggressive”) instructed realtors to not only cease using drones, but to also cease using images derived from drones. The NRT letter was so sweeping that a homeowner who filmed their own house with a drone for fun, might be told by their realtor that they could not use their photos or videos in their own home listing.

The National Association of Realtors is now working with the FAA to try and craft rules for the use of drones by realtors. (Image courtesy of Skyris Imaging)
The National Association of Realtors is now working with the FAA to try and craft rules for the use of drones by realtors. (Image courtesy of Skyris Imaging)
Now that the National Association of Realtors has begun lobbying the FAA, realtors may expect some changes — if not in the current rules, then in the rules the FAA is supposed to release in Fall of 2015. This would be a welcome development as the FAA’s current stance is unworkable, and the ban makes little sense in this context. The National Association of Realtors is hoping for regulations that would allow members to use this technology safely but that are not overly cumbersome or expensive.

Gregory S. McNeal is a professor specializing in law and public policy. You can follow him on Twitter @GregoryMcNeal or on Facebook.

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