I passed my FAA Part 107 test, and I’m now making legal drone photos.

In the world of real estate, great photos matter.  The difference isn’t just artsy or technical, and it’s a difference that really matters.  Here’s why:

Nearly all buyers begin their search online.  In today’s market, they have lots of options. Their biggest challenge: deciding on a short list of homes they feel are worth seeing in person.  Great photos increase the odds that your home will make the cut.  In the old days, back when buyers drove around looking for real estate signs, everyone talked about “curb appeal.” Online, great photos are the modern equivalent.  Other than price, it’s the #1 thing we can do to help your home get noticed.

And starting now…  I’m also creating aerial photos and video.  Last winter I passed my Part 107 test, and I’m now an FAA-certified Remote Pilot who can legally fly small Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs) for commercial purposes.

So what’s Part 107 all about?  It’s a regulatory framework that covers small UASs being flown commercially in the National Airspace System (NAS).  As of August 29, 2016, a Realtor or photographer must possess a Remote Pilot Certificate before they can legally use a drone to capture aerial photos or video that will be used to market your home.  It doesn’t matter if no money changes hands; the FAA clearly defines real estate photography as a “commercial purpose,” and even uses it as a key example of the difference between commercial and recreational flight.

(If a Realtor or photographer is about to take aerial photos or videos of your home, make sure they’re doing so legally and safely.  When flying a small UAS for commercial purposes (and that includes anything related to real estate), pilots here in the U.S. are required by law to have their Remote Pilot Certificate with them at all times.  Liability for unauthorized operations can fall on both the pilot and the person who hires the pilot.  The pilot would face a fine of $1,100 per violation, and the “person who causes the operation” could be liable for a fine of $11,000.)

If you’d like to take the Part 107 test yourself, then get ready to study.  You’ll need to know how to read a sectional chart and understand the nuances and technicalities of the NAS, how to interpret METARs and TAFs, airport operations, aeronautical decision-making, all the rules and regulations covered under Part 107, and more.

I’ll have to admit…  As I began my studies, some of these arcane details felt a little irrelevant.  But then I started to realize that nearly everything I was learning would make me a safer, more responsible flier.  Without that knowledge, I’d be creating unnecessary risks that could have serious consequences.

If that’s true for me flying photo and video missions over lake homes that are way out here in the woods, well, then it’s definitely true for the more typical Remote Pilot who’s flying over cities and suburbs.  There, topics like airspace floors and ceilings, TFRs, NOTAMs, and CTAFs for listening in on untowered approaches are no longer of just academic interest.

I’m also taking this very seriously in another way.  This isn’t just flying.  It’s photography.  Real photography.

Although aerial photos and video still have novelty value, it’s no longer enough to send up a drone and press a button.  This isn’t a job for your neighbor’s teenager who loves drones, phones, and video games.  It’s a job for a skilled real estate photographer who occasionally uses a camera that happens to be mounted on a flying tripod.  Just as with terrestrial photography, there’s more to this than just buying a camera and clicking a button.

So I’m excited.  I’ve passed my Part 107 test, and I’m now flying my flying tripod.

Check out my gallery pages for examples of the stunning images that can make your home stand out from the crowd.  And for more still, check out my wife’s blog and website over at www.JeanHedrenRealtor.com.

 

About alcambronne

Real estate & architectural photographer. FAA-licensed Part 107 drone pilot. Author of DEERLAND: America’s Hunt for Ecological Balance & the Essence of Wildness.
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