Drone Images Could Cost a Realtor $11,000

As a business owner, I get it. You're trying your best to save money. Seriously, SAVE ALL THE MONEY.

Drone images are where you can't cut corners. You can't play dumb. Why? The FAA will find you. And the FAA will fine you. I mean, I wouldn't charge/pay $11,000 for drone images. And neither should you.

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I don't think drone images (a.k.a. aerial images) are going anywhere soon. They're more than a trend. It's a new, impressive way to view a property.

So, why drones?

Back in the day, if you wanted aerial images of a property, you'd need a small plane and a photographer. It cost a ton of cash. And it took valuable time. The use of drones changed all of that. You can capture the same amazing images (and video too) with feet on the ground... literally.

I love flying my drones. Not gonna lie... It's awesome. The technology is fantastic and there's so much I can capture - that in the past - I'd need a rig and a Hollywood crew to capture the perfect angles. Now, with my thumbs on a joystick, I can duplicate these same shots in 4K.

So, what's up with the $11,000 fine for drone images? In case you didn't know... the FAA isn't a huge advocate of the drone industry. In fact, it's probably more of an annoyance to them. The test to become a certified drone pilot is ridiculous. It's made up of old charts and outdated methods of reading them - in an effort to make drone pilots appreciate the history of aviation. It was a beast to study for and pass.

In the last few years, we've seen the FAA fine photographers for using a drone without being licensed. Like this guy from Chicago who was fined $2,000,000 for illegal drone flights. So, if that's the case, why is the FAA going after realtors?

Pssssttt.... The FAA realized the Realtor makes more money than the photographer. *Shocker*

The amount of money I charge for drone images/video is peanuts compared to the commission a realtor receives.

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So, what's the fine?

$1,100 per occurrence/flight

$11,000 to the agent who uses and unlicensed pilot.

And, if you're the agent who took the images - you're liable for both fines.

Check out the full articles here and here.

And why so much?! Well, the FAA is a government organization. This isn't a small traffic violation you can fight in your local court. Anytime someone flies a drone illegally, they're breaking a federal law.

Breaking Federal Law = Big Fine

So, why am I speaking out about it? Because I see it all the time. Because, like you as a realtor, I had to jump through hoops and pay money to be licensed (and to keep my licensed renewed).

Not only did I study and pay to become a licensed drone pilot - I carry liability and injury insurance - between $1,000,000 to $10,000,000 depending on the property/work. The risk of an awesome image or video footage isn't worth damaging my reputation or yours.

What would happen if the drone damaged your home owners property? I mean, we're not just talking about physical damage to the property. We're talking about emotional damages too. And - even if we're using the same Verifly insurance - they won't cover your claim if you're not licensed. Ouch.

So, while you shudder when a FSBO pops up on the market - I shudder when I see you using an unlicensed drone pilot. The biggest difference? The FSBO isn't breaking a federal law.

It's not worth risking your reputation or the possible physical/emotional damage to the home owner. If you have any questions about drone laws, I'd be more than happy to help - free of charge. I love seeing people fly drones - and I love even more when people fly responsibly.

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