Oklahoma City realty agents react to FAA drone notice

Not many real estate agents in Oklahoma City have adopted drone technology to obtain aerial photos and videos. Now the Federal Aviation Administration says if they do, they need to be certified by the FAA for commercial use.
by Richard Mize Published: June 27, 2014
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photo - 
Price Edwards & Co. bought a drone last year to offer real estate photography for clients. OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES
  CHRIS LANDSBERGER - 
CHRIS LANDSBERGER
Price Edwards & Co. bought a drone last year to offer real estate photography for clients. OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES CHRIS LANDSBERGER - CHRIS LANDSBERGER

Real estate drones were grounded before most could get off the ground.

The Federal Aviation Administration warned agents who fly drones to get photos or video of property listings — uncommon in Oklahoma City — that they could be fined if not certified as commercial operators by the FAA.

Some drone-flying agents were claiming to be hobbyists — and so not subject to regulation — since they were not charging for the service, according to real estate news service Inman News.

Further, “Companies that provide drone photography or video for real estate brokers and agents will sometimes say they are charging for photo or video editing, not drone flights,” Inman reported.

However, the FAA on Monday pointed specifically to the use of drones in real estate marketing as an example of types of flights not considered hobby or recreation use: “A Realtor using a model aircraft to photograph a property that he is trying to sell and using the photos in the property’s real estate listing, (or) a person photographing a property or event and selling the photos to someone else.”

Other examples were “delivering packages to people for a fee,” “determining whether crops need to be watered that are grown as part of commercial farming operation,” and “receiving money for demonstrating acrobatics with a model aircraft.”

‘Over-regulation’

It’s “over-regulation,” said Nels Petersen, president of the Oklahoma City Metro Association of Realtors and owner of RE/MAX Preferred Properties.

Petersen, who retired as a captain in the U.S. Navy, said it was hard for him, “as a former naval aviator with 2,500 (flight) hours,” to see the concern over such low-flying craft.

He said he didn’t know of many Realtors using drones, but that it comes up in RE/MAX circles because of the corporate symbol: the high-flying red, white and blue RE/MAX balloon.

GiGi Faulkner, broker-owner of RE/MAX First, said agents in that office haven’t personally adopted the drone technology, although one might hire an aerial photographer for an unusually situated property.

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by Richard Mize
Real Estate Editor
Real estate editor Richard Mize has edited The Oklahoman's weekly residential real estate section and covered housing, commercial real estate, construction, development, finance and related business since 1999. From 1989 to 1999, he worked...
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