Lower Eastern Shore, Md. – Eased regulations announced last week by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are expected to open the door for expanded Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), or drone, use in the local real estate industry.

Drones are useful in a number of real estate-related applications, including marketing properties, assisting with appraisals, facilitating insurance claims, and overseeing utility work. However strict regulations have historically hindered commercial use of drones. The new rules announced last week should allow for more real estate and other professionals to use drones for commercial purposes.

  • Commercial drone operators are no longer required to hold a pilot’s license. However, they must still obtain new certification for ‘remote pilot in command’ authority, which is less burdensome then a pilot’s license. The test is administered at FAA testing centers and is knowledge-based only. The cost is about $150 and will take about 20 hours of study time and three hours to complete the test itself. Operators will still need to pass a background check performed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
  • Flights may be conducted during daylight hours, within visual line of sight, not directly over non-participants, at an altitude below 400 feet, and at a speed up to 100 miles per hour.
  • Drones may not weigh more than 55 pounds.
  • The rule will go into effect in August 2016.

“We feel these new rules strike a nice balance that protects the safety and privacy of individuals, while also ensuring real estate professionals can put drones to good use,” said Joe Wilson, chair of the Coastal Association of REALTORS® (CAR) Government Affairs Committee. “With this new technology becoming more affordable and readily available, it’s important that REALTORS® are able to utilize it to better showcase their clients’ homes. This is just another tool that our members can use to be more effective, more professional, and more modern.”

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, whether these new regulations preempt state, county, and municipal law is yet to be seen. However, since the FAA has sole authority over public airspace, local professionals should be able to operate drones, so long as they follow the rules. For example, drone operation is not permitted within five miles of an airport without a waiver from said airport. That coupled with a rule stating drones may not be operated over uninvolved bystanders, could make drone use difficult in the Lower Shore’s more densely populated areas.

“With airports in Ocean City, Salisbury, and Crisfield, our members and other professionals really need to be sure they are in compliance, and not operating within that five-mile radius without a waiver,” Wilson said. “We encourage our members to follow the rules and use drones responsibly.”

For more information about CAR, visit www.coastalrealtors.org.

More about Coastal Association of REALTORS®

Coastal Association of REALTORS® is the leading local advocacy group in the real estate industry on the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland. Coastal REALTORS® works in partnership with its members to promote home ownership and preserve, protect, and advocate private property rights. The organization supports 1,000 REALTORS® who serve Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester counties.

For more information on Coastal REALTORS®, visit www.coastalrealtors.org. The term REALTOR® is a registered collective membership mark unique to real estate professionals who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and subscribe to its strict Code of Ethics.

MEDIA CONTACT: Sarah Rayne / 410-641-4409/ sarah@coastalrealtors.org