Technology

Realtors get a seat at the drone regulation table

FAA invites NAR to participate in working group

The Federal Aviation Administration has invited the National Association of Realtors to participate in a working group that will provide input on forthcoming regulations of “unmanned aerial systems,” or drones.

NAR says it will use the opportunity to “educate FAA officials on how Realtors are interested in utilizing this technology safely and responsibly.”

In June, the FAA warned real estate agents who fly their own drones to take pictures or videos of listings that they are not engaged in a “hobby or recreation.” The FAA also provided guidance to hobbyists on the “do’s and don’ts” of flying small unmanned aircraft, citing “recent incidents involving the reckless use of unmanned model aircraft near airports and involving large crowds of people.”

The FAA’s position is that even as it works on the new regulations, it already has the authority to take enforcement actions against real estate agents and others using drones for profit. While the FAA has issued numerous cease-and-desist letters to alleged commercial drone operators, its ability to collect fines against them should it pursue enforcement actions against them remains unclear.

Lawyers with Realogy subsidiary NRT LLC aren’t taking any chances, warning agents who work out of more than 200 offices in the northeastern U.S. not to commission drone photography from vendors until the FAA issues “clearly defined rules” governing the commercial operation of drones. Until that happens, the lawyers said in a July memo, NRT won’t even process or distribute images captured by drones in the affected regions.

NAR says it supports regulations “that would allow members to use this technology safely but that are not overly cumbersome or expensive.”

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The trade group expects the FAA to propose regulations in November that would “establish a timeframe” for implementing rules for commercially operated drone flights.