drone Photo: Don McCullough/Flickr

On Tuesday, the United States Federal Aviation Administration began issuing drone permits for real estate photography, granting exemptions to the current restrictions on commercial unmanned aircraft flights. Real estate agents are keen to use drones to capture aerial photographs and video of their listings — which are especially effective when marketing large properties.

Prior to the regulatory change, commercial drone pilots risked heavy fines if convicted by the FAA. The government agency has been waging a legal battle since 2011 when Raphael Pirker was fined $10,000 for recklessness while filming a promotional video for the University of Virginia. Last March, Pirker appealed the fine and won — which effectively struck down the FAA’s ban. But in November, the FAA fought back, appealing that same decision. This time, the courts ruled in their favor.

Unsurprisingly, Tuesday’s decision came with a slew of bureaucratic obstacles. Those who wish to apply for a commercial drone permit must enlist a pilot with an FAA private pilot certificate and a medical certificate. The pilot may not fly the aircraft without an observer, and the drone must always be within his or her line of sight. In addition to real estate, the FAA will also grant permits to companies involved in agriculture.

drone view Photo: Twelvizm/Flickr

Hundreds of real estate companies throughout the United States have already applied for exemption. It’s a big step forward for the FAA who had previously granted only 11 permits to filmmaking, oil and industrial landfill companies.

In Canada, commercial drone flights are regulated by Transport Canada, who must ascertain the individual can fly the drone safely and has been familiarized with aviation regulations. The permits are temporary and requests are typically processed within 20 business days.

Thanks to the FAA’s approval, potential home buyers in the US can expect more drones to take to the skies this year — creating literal and figurative buzz around listed properties.

Be sure to check out our very own BuzzBuzzHome drone in action below:

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