Drone Trends for Real Estate

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Tricia Covert
Arizona Journal of Real Estate & Business


Many tools come to mind when looking at new and innovative services available to the real estate industry: video, social media, apps and lead generation software – to name a few. A tool that is gaining momentum is drones – also referred to as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). I had a recent conversation with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regarding the real estate industry and the use of drones.

As of December 21, 2015, the FAA began officially accepting registrations for drones. Registration is a way to regulate and track the volume in use which is divided into a hobbyist or commercial category – for drones weighing more than 0.55lbs and less than 55lbs. As of May 2016, Arizona had 11,409 hobbyist registrations and 64 for commercial. Nationally, more than 500,000 registrations for hobbyists were processed and 20,000 for commercial – and those numbers are steadily increasing at a rapid pace.

National drone sales for commercial purposes are estimated to grow to 600,000 by the end of 2016 – rising up to 2.5 million by as early as 2020. Real estate is expected to be one of the largest industries to contribute to that growth.
Real estate professionals who use this technology have reported drone photography to be a valuable asset for land, commercial and residential property marketing – as well as a current competitive advantage. However, the increase in popularity of drone photography may make it more of a client expectation within a very short timeframe.

Some advantages of drone photography in real estate include:

  • Full aerial view of a property
  • Capture neighborhood details
  • Show surrounding areas such as walking paths and amenities
  • Give out-of-state or international buyers a more in-depth view online
  • Monitor construction in progress
  • Mapping

Effective August 29, 2016, the Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration’s new UAS Rule (Part 107) also is in place for routine, commercial use of drones. This new rule is expected to generate $82 billion for the U.S. economy and create more than 100,000 new jobs over the next decade. It opens doors for various industries to further use drones for professional use including the real estate industry.

Some real estate professionals choose to purchase and operate a drone themselves – others hire an outside service to simplify the process. If operating your own drone, the FAA requires registration and training. Failure to register with the FAA can result in one or a combination of: a civil penalty of up to $27,500, a criminal fine up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years.

If you would like to learn more information about drones, the registration process and the UAS Rule (Part 107) see the links below:




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