Realtors Score Spot at Table to Talk Drones

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By / Sep 24, 2014
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At a time when some of its members are using commercial drones to photograph properties, despite a current ban on the practice, the National Association of Realtors plans to work with the FAA to clarify drone rules.

The demand was too hard for the industry—or, as it turns out, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)—to ignore.

And it was that demand—from real estate agents, for drones—that earned the National Association of Realtors a place at the table. Earlier this month, NAR announced that it will join an FAA working group on unmanned aircraft systems that will help the agency craft regulations for safe and responsible commercial use of the technology. The FAA is expected to announce proposed rules by November.

NAR supports regulations that would allow members to use this technology safely but that are not overly cumbersome or expensive.

“NAR supports regulations that would allow members to use this technology safely but that are not overly cumbersome or expensive,” the group said in a statement.

The technology has gained popularity among agents, who use the devices to shoot high-quality photos and low-cost videos of properties for sale, even though that use of drones has not been approved by the FAA. Some real estate agents have essentially concluded that the benefits of using the technology outweigh the risk of getting caught, though NAR has discouraged such use until rules are in place.

Some real estate firms, such as NRT LLC, have told their agents not to use drone photography until the FAA sets its rules.

But that hasn’t been enough to stop some agents, including Wellington, Florida, attorney and Realtor Robb Heering, who argues that the FAA doesn’t have the legal authority to ban the commercial use of drones.

“The FAA is barking loud, but at this point it has no teeth,” Heering told The Boston Globe. “The FAA does need to issue regulations, but they need to do it fast because a whole new industry has been birthed by these drones.”

The move comes as commercial drone enthusiasts are stepping up their game on FAA regulations. In July, the Drone Pilots Association launched with plans to mount legal challenges to the agency’s restrictions on drone use.


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