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(Updated Feb 2015)

Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), are currently used on a very limited basis for law enforcement, national security, and scientific purposes. Currently, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibits the use of UAVs for any commercial purpose, except on a case-by-case basis where the FAA has granted the user a certificate of airworthiness. Given the current FAA prohibition, the National Association of REALTORS® recommends that its members not utilize this technology for any purpose related to selling property. 

However, change is on the horizon. The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 tasked the FAA with implementing clear-cut regulations allowing for the commercial use of UAVs, by no later than September 30, 2015. In the meantime, this Field Guide includes resources to help REALTORS® stay abreast of the legal status of utilizing drones, and to learn about the potential future use of drones for the real estate industry. (A. Siudzinski, Senior Library Information Specialist)

Source: Commercial drones explained, (The Washington Post, Dec. 3, 2013).

Q - ProQuest articles available for NAR members only. Password can be found on the ProQuest/Find Articles page.

Drones, Real Estate, and the Law

Economic potential of drones stalled by lack of regulation (Investor’s Business Daily, Feb. 25, 2015) Q

The tether loosens; commercial drones (The Economist, Feb. 21, 2015) Q

Drones to Become a Reality in the Real Estate Industry, (Multi-Housing News, Feb. 19, 2015).

REALTORS® Applaud FAA’s Proposed Rule to Allow Commercial Drone Use for Real Estate, (National Association of REALTORS®, Feb. 15, 2015).

Commercial Drone Rules to Limit Their Weight, Speed and Altitude, (NPR.org, Feb. 15, 2015).

Using drones to sell homes — except in Washington, (The Washington Post, Feb. 9, 2015).

National Association of REALTORS® Policy Statement: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, (National Association of REALTORS®, Nov. 13, 2014).

Press release: FAA offers guidance to model aircraft operators, (Federal Aviation Administration, June 23, 2014).

Drones approved: FAA gives OK to first commercial use over land, (The Two-Way, June 10, 2014).

Will this fly?:  A primer on drone laws, (Mashable, May 2, 2014).

NAR, trade groups urge FAA to clarify drone use, (REALTOR® Magazine Daily Real Estate News, Apr. 9, 2014).

Drones in Real Estate: Not so Fast; The legal landscape surrounding commercial use of drones is constantly shifting, (REALTOR® Magazine, Mar./Apr. 2014).

Judge: It’s always been legal to fly commercial drones in the U.S., (Fortune, Mar. 10, 2014).

What’s That Flying Over Your Listing? Can drones be used as a way to survey property and shoot aerial videos to help market and sell of listings? Legally, no — at least for now, (REALTOR® Magazine, Feb. 2013).

Drones and Real E​state Marketing

Drones: the next frontier in real estate marketing, (The Times, July 5, 2015).

Drones giving real estate industry an aerial advantage, (CBS, May 27, 2014).

Smile, You’re on camera!, (Crain’s Chicago Business, May 26, 2014). Q

Drones: aerial photos the latest real estate marketing tool, (Realty Today, May 16, 2014).

Drones used for aerial real estate videos, (San Francisco Chronicle, May 15 2014).

Drones become airborne to sell homes, (Geek Estate, April 23, 2014).

Why the real estate industry is interested in drones, too, (Citylab, Jan. 30, 2014).

Drones offer promise in real estate—once rules are out,  (Speaking of Real Estate, Jan. 22, 2014).

Still unconvinced, home buyer?  Check out the view from the drone, (The New York Times, Dec. 23, 2013).

eBooks & Other Resources:


The following eBooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:

Digital Photography All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, (Kindle, Adobe PDF eBook)

How To Do Everything With Your Digital Camera, (Adobe PDF eBook)

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The inclusion of links on this field guide does not imply endorsement by the National Association of REALTORS®. NAR makes no representations about whether the content of any external sites which may be linked in this field guide complies with state or federal laws or regulations or with applicable NAR policies. These links are provided for your convenience only and you rely on them at your own risk.