Do Real Estate Agents Need a License to Fly a Drone?

February 18, 2021

Make sure you are not risking your business or your client's by not being properly certified and insured

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that all people who plan to use their drone for commercial purposes are required to have a Part 107 certificate, but you will probably just hear people refer to this as a drone license. 

This drone license requirement came about from the FAA’s 2016 14 CFR Part 107 rules which were instituted to create safer, legal drone flight in the United States. 

The thing is, not all drone pilots need a license (as of Jan 2021). If you’re just flying drones as a hobby, you’re good to go. However, if you are using the drone to capture footage that will make you or someone else money, then you need a license. 

Note, too, that it doesn’t matter if the drone itself is making you money. If you will use the drone footage to promote something that will make you money it still counts. So, if you’re a real estate agent and you’re using your drone to film footage of your new listing, you need to be licensed.

There are a handful of other rules in Part 107 that pertain to real estate agents collecting footage for listing videos or lifestyle videos. For example, you can’t fly drones over crowds or moving vehicles, you can only fly within line-of-sight, knowledge of restricted flying areas and you must always yield to manned aircraft to name just a few. 

Fines for Flying a Drone Without a License

As a pilot, fines for violating these rules can be up to $32,666 per incidence. You can also be fined for failing to register your drone, which could add up to $27,500. Furthermore, commercial drone laws extend beyond the pilot, and the customer can be fined up to $11,000 for hiring an unlicensed pilot. 

If you are an agent who bought a drone and took photos or videos for yourself, you will be liable for both fines by the FAA. 

Commercial Drone Insurance

Another vital consideration for commercial drone operation is having a comprehensive commercial drone liability insurance policy. 

If an accident were to occur and you are not carrying liability insurance of some type, the consequences will be financially devastating not only to you but also to your brokerage/company and possibly your client.

Drone insurance policies are usually about $500 annually, but you can also pay by the day or by the hour if you’re not a frequent flyer. 

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Benefits of Drone Photography and Videography for Real Estate Marketing

Using a drone to capture photos and videos of your listings sets them apart from the majority on the MLS. You can capture angles and get photos that are impossible with ground-based photography. If you have a listing with a lot of acreage or an impressive exterior, using a drone can capture its entirety.

Additionally, you can create captivating virtual tours of your properties with a drone. Create a video that makes viewers feel as if they were really there. What still photos can do that?

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Finally, when your listings stand out from the competition because you used drone photos and videos, it shows potential new clients that you go the extra mile to market your listings, and it sets you apart as a listing broker too.

See How Good Legal Drone Footage Can Be

Long story short, if you’re a real estate agent and you plan to use a drone for photos and videos, get your license. If you’re a client, check to make sure your agent has their certificate. As long as your commercial drone footage complies with national regulations, it can help make you far more money than you pay for the certificate, registration, and insurance. 

Check out my YouTube channel to see some drone footage in action:

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