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drones_marketing_homesIn the coming months as new, fresh crops of homes begin going on the market, the buzzing sounds of landscaping equipment on the ground may be joined by a new buzz – up over your head.

Not to drone on, but I have been following the lofty pursuit of real estate professionals and their potential contractors to use drone or unmanned low-altitude aircraft to capture new and potentially attractive perspectives of properties going on the market.

A blog from Andrew Sims of the Birmingham Association of REALTORS® in mid-January informed colleagues about new developments in drone use for commercial real estate caught my eye. Similar interest apparently exists for residential real estate marketing.

Sims reported that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted permission to a REALTOR® from Tucson, Arizona to use an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or drone, to create marketing videos for commercial purposes.

Sims, like many of his colleagues across the nation, are wondering when or how soon these federal permissions may be relaxed for the benefit of all real estate consumers. Currently, restrictions and penalties for illegal operation are still in force – and the FAA is says to be auditing real estate websites and advertising for illegal drone photography.

On February 15, the FAA proposed a framework of regulations that would allow routine use of small unmanned drones, along with safety rules for many small drones under 55 pounds conducting non-recreational operations.

The rule would limit flights to daylight and visual-line-of-sight operations, addresses height restrictions, operator certification, optional use of a visual observer, aircraft registration and marking, and operational limits. The proposed rule also includes the possibility of an additional, more flexible framework for “micro” drones under 4.4 pounds, which can still carry high definition cameras.

Prior to finalizing any expansion of small drone use beyond that single Arizona agency, the FAA has opened a 60-day public comment period on proposed regulations for anyone who wants to support or offer opposition to these draft regulations.