We’ve come a long way since 2015 when Federal Aviation Administration officials told realtors that they were still prohibited from using drones during the “When, Where and How can I Use My Drone” session at the Realtors Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo. Officials were still working on the new rules for drones, and quickly enacted them a year later.
With a consistent set of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules to integrate unmanned aerial drones safely into the National Airspace System (NAS) published last year, drones are emerging as one of the new frontiers of the modern 21st economy: fast, flexible, efficient.
The new technology and its many uses are only beginning to become apparent as it revolutionizes several different industries and trades. Real estate appraisers who resist learning about and applying the many advantages of this new technology risk being outpaced by their competitors who embrace it.
Aerial photography has always been a powerful tool for real estate appraisal, but not available to all real estate appraisal companies because it was cost prohibitive, and not necessary cost effective to use for most customers’ needs. But flying an unmanned aerial drone is much easier and much more cost effective, lowering the barrier to entry for appraisers eager to add more aerial photography to their toolbox.
Not only is drone use for real estate appraisal more cost effective, but it’s more time effective too. Weather conditions used to be a factor in aerial photography, as well as the availability of licensed pilots. And for all the added cost and hassle of using planes for aerial photography, they were hardly as task effective as drones, limited by altitude restrictions that only allowed the bird’s eye camera to see a property so close.
In addition to the use of aerial photography to show the topography of a plot and the proximity of a building to other properties, power lines, or natural geographic features, an obvious application is the use of drones to reveal hard-to-reach places to the eyes of the modern appraiser. The condition of hard to see features like rooflines, air conditioning units, and gutters is now easily ascertainable when it was not before.
Aerial drones will also be easily outfitted with specialized sensory equipment for various fields, including real estate. Thermal imaging technology for instance will allow real estate appraisers to instantly spot hot loss from a building and assess the cost of better insulation. Niche markets for specialized equipment on aerial drones represents an economic opportunity for appraisers.
To fly a drone for real estate appraisal you will need to receive a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate of Authorization to fly a drone for commercial use. To get the certification, you will need to pass the FAA Unmanned Aeronautical General Knowledge Test and complete a training class. The test covers: airspace classification, operating requirements, flight restrictions, aviation weather sources, radio communication procedures, effects of drugs and alcohol, aeronautical decision-making, judgment, and general airport operations. The certificate needs to be renewed every 24 months.