Can a Real Estate Agent or Broker Charge Money to Take Drone Pictures of Properties?

In Drone Law Blog, Real Estate Drone Use by Enrico Schaefer2 Comments

FAA Approves Drone Use for Real Estate

The use of drones by real estate agents, brokers and vendors for aerial photography and videography is exploding.

One of the hottest areas for drone photography and videography is in the real estate market.  A picture really does speak a thousand words.  When it comes to selling real estate, no truer words have ever been spoken. Real estate drone use will be the fastest growing commercial use of drones and UAS.  Will your company be ready to offer customers and home sellers and buyer what they really want?

Unique legal issues can limit the use of drones in real estate.

Obtaining a picture of a house or property from angles above the ground will provide real estate agents and brokers with a distinct competitive advantage in selling commercial and residential homes and properties.  Real estate brokers, real estate agents and UAS operators looking to specialize in the real estate drone photography and videography markets have a number of legal hurdles to get over before they can start taking photographs or videos for their real estate customers.  Those issues include, but are not limited to:

  • Do you have the legal right to fly? Obtaining a Section 333 Exemption which will put real estate professionals in a position to take aerial photography using drones for commercial purposes.
  • Can you fly over houses, above the neighbor’s house or in neighborhoods?  Operating real estate dedicated drones in a way which complies with the Section 333 Exemption and the blanket COA issued by the FAA, is going to be challenging.  You need to do it right, with safety and operational checklists to make sure that everyone within the flight zone is provided notice of the flight, provides consent and remains in a protected area during flight operations.   The blanket COA for 333 exemption holders allows flights below 200 feet without getting a civil COA for each flight which is helpful.  But there are still many FAA regulations which need to be accounted for as part of each drone flight to capture real estate photography or video.
  • Can you fly when there are bystanders near the flight operation?  Flying over residential or commercial properties which have neighboring buildings or people, within 500 feet of the flight, raises a number of regulatory compliance issues.  Currently, one cannot fly a drone to take photographs or video if there are any people, vehicles or structures within 500 feet and which are not part of the flight.  Without special procedures, this regulation precludes real estate brokers and agents, as well as their vendor servicing them, from taking photos and videos of most residential and commercial properties. Our drone and UAS law professionals can help you  work within these regulations.
  • Who can fly my drone if I obtain a 333 exemption?  Finding the proper drone operation to conduct flights safely and in full compliance with the FAA’s exemption and all AIMS/FAR regulations is critical.  Doing the due diligence on the Pilot In Command (PIC) is also important.  A good drone attorney can help you understand these risks and reduce your exposure if something goes wrong.
  • What insurance companies will insure my real estate companies’ use of drones?  One of the more interesting aspects of commercial drone use is ‘drone insurance.’  You will need a policy to cover any accidents which might result in injury to person or property.  Obtaining insurance will depend on your operation protocols, maintenance protocols and other detailed flight and operator documentation.  Our drone professionals can help you draft and implement safety policies and procedures that meet and exceed FAA requirements.

Are you a real estate agent, broker or vendor looking to capitalize on drone photography and videography?

The drone attorneys at Traverse Legal, PLC are working with real estate brokers, agents and third parties providing aerial photography and videography services to the real estate industry to help them comply with current FAA regulations over UAS.  We have developed strategies which will increase the number of compliant flights under a Section 333 Exemption.  Contact one of the drone lawyers at Traverse Legal today in order to learn more about operating your drone safely and in full compliance with FAA regulations in the real estate UAS market.



  1. Enrico Schaefer

    What states search for the word “drone” the most in Google search? The list no doubt reflects the beauty of each of these states and the magic that only a drone photograph can capture.


  2. Daniel Salazar

    Hi there I need to be in full compliance with FAA regulations in the real estate UAS market. I know there is 107 out know so is all I need to be in compliance get the 107 cert and insurance. Need help to know if there is something else that I may be missing. Thank You for any info or help you can give.

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