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The FAA has granted a total of 45 exemptions to real estate drones, according to a report by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems. So Florida is now the leading state with federal approvals for use of drones in real estate photography.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted 45 exemptions to real estate drone pilot applications in Florida, more than in any other state.

The exemptions introduced last year, allow for qualified uses of photography of skylines and events, surveys of farmland and crop conditions and inspections by law enforcement authorities. Under a Section 333 exemption from the FAA, those real estate brokers and agents who choose to use drones for real estate photography can provide photos to sellers that only drones can photograph. In such a scenario, using outside vendors is expensive and unnecessary.

Florida drone pilots have the most exemptions, with California as second to granted to applicants. The FAA has granted a total of more than 1,200 petitions for exemption, a growing number with nearly 350 additional petitions being filed each week.

In order to obtain and retain an exemption from the FAA, real estate applicants must possess a drone pilot’s certificate. The operation of commercial real estate drones is to be conducted in daylight only and in within line of sight. The rule also addresses height restrictions,  optional use of a visual observer, operator certification, operational limits and aircraft registration and marking. Real estate drones must also have a weight limit of up to 55 pounds and only fly to an altitude of up to 400 feet. The FAA rules for commercial drones have still yet to be finalized.

As real estate drones become more accepted, the technology can deliver even more opportunity for commercial real estate. Orlando Aerial Videos in Central Florida uses drones for real estate to operate a camera-equipped drone over construction sites. Carlos Pando, Manager, told the Orlando Sentinel that their company obtained an FAA exemption about five months ago. Drones have the ability to allow investors to view real estate assets from a completely new perspective. Both an owner and an investor can benefit from its real-time property views while the technology is in flight.

Transwestern brokers are leveraging real estate drones to showcase walkability through aerial photos of their projects and nearby amenities. Drones are also being used to photograph traffic patterns of major intersections which may be located nearby a project. Such photos are being taken at various times during the day. The technology also allows for views of floors and video.

Commercial real estate companies see drones as a promising ROI platform for properties and have been investing in the new technology. FAA Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx stated that technology is advancing at an unprecedented pace and this milestone allows federal regulations and the use of our national airspace to evolve to safely accommodate innovation.

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