Drone video for real estate is about as hot right now as when the first cars were mass-produced and made available to the public. And just about as risky.
Much like cars, it’s popular – and effective – for good reason. Drone videos and photos can:
- Engage audiences better than low-quality photos
- Fully showcase your properties in 3D
- Highlight special locations that matter for a sale
- Give 360-degree home fly-arounds
- Deliver one-of-a-kind home “fly-thrus”
- Set your brand apart
- And much more…
So what’s the problem? Well, it’s new technology and a new business market. It’s also a service that has brand new (and often) confusing, ill-defined rules. Well, until recently.
The government sees people who fly drones “not for profit” as “hobbyists.” Wanna buy a drone off amazon and fly in your backyard? You’re a hobbyist.
Wanna have local Realtors pay you to do video of their listings? Well, then you’re gonna need to be a regulated “commercial” drone pilot.
In fact, gonna post your “hobbyist” drone video to YouTube? Well the FAA may come after you when a legal “droner” turns you in.
“The emerging drone business is highly-competitive and cut-throat even,” says pilot Ben Polancich of High Country Drones in Boone, NC. “Legal drone providers – especially those that took the time and money to become actual airplane pilots – will turn other illegal drone video sellers in and their customers too. Happens every week.”
Over the past couple of years, the FAA has been slowly been bringing more regulation and control into sharper focus – and it will continue to do so.
Originally, to offer drone services, the FAA and all states required that drone pilots be, well, “real” pilots. You had to become licensed to fly an actual airplane.
Now, all drone pilots who want to sell their services – i.e. not fly as hobbyists – must pass what amounts to the written portion of an FAA pilot’s license and comply with a full set of rules and regulations.
So what does that mean for you?
After all, you just want a drone video of a home listing. You can pay the neighbor’s kid down the street, right? Wrong.
The “getting-sued-for-having-a-pool-with-no-fence” analogy for Realtors
Back in the 1970s and 80s the news was full of stories about kids jumping into their neighbors pool late at night, getting hurt or drowning. Lawsuit after lawsuit ruined families and businesses whether it made logical sense or not.
As a result? Lots of laws and regulations came into being and everyone was required to put up code-compliant fencing, life saving devices and “no lifeguard on duty” signs to avoid getting sued for everything by people trespassing in the first place.
Nowadays, every Realtor is buying video and flying their own drones for agents and other customers for a fee. Yet the vast majority are not using licensed (for commercial use) drone providers or licensed themselves.
Simply put, using an illegal drone provider puts you and your business at risk.
Just like all those businesses ruined in the pool lawsuits (that still happen, btw), if you hire an illegal drone provider, you could be opening up your business to damaging and costly litigation from those hurt when a hobbyist (i.e. non-pilot) hits a group of people, damages property or – heaven forbid – kills someone by flying into a plane or moving vehicle.
Take the risk? I wouldn’t.
“Just hire a legal, commercial drone pilot with an FAA pilot’s license,” says Polancich. “Ask them to show you their license. If they can’t, move on and find another one. Don’t take the risk of losing your business.”
The gist? Always ask your drone provider to provide their license. Furthermore. ask them to provide an FAA pilot’s license if you really want to be safe.
Stats and Image Courtesy of MarketingProfs
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