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Do You Need a License to Fly a Drone for Real Estate? (Explained)

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Drone Blog
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It’s no secret how useful drones are when selling real estate properties or looking to buy one. Often times realtors’ agents and investors will want drone videos or drone pictures of a property that they are selling or one that they are looking to purchase.

However, many realtors are under the impression that they can simply buy a drone and go out and use it to advertise properties by putting aerial photos and videos on Facebook and real estate websites.

That is not at all the case.

In order to use a drone for financial gain of any sort, you must have a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate. This includes using a drone to promote the sale of properties.

If you’re caught flying a drone to promote the sale of properties without a license, the fines that the FAA might impose on you as a realtor can be up to $32,000. 

If you’re a realtor and you’re not planning on hiring a drone pilot to capture aerial photography or aerial videography, then you’ll need to get your Part 107 Certificate.

What is the Part 107 Certificate? #

The Part 107 Certificate is the certificate for all pilots who wish to fly drones for commercial and business purposes. Since drones are considered unmanned aerial aircraft instead of toys, the FAA has jurisdiction over who can use drones professionally. 

There are many reasons why you must have a Part 107 Certificate, but one of them is that, like many other industries, drone piloting is a protected workforce.

As mentioned before, the fines that the FAA might impose on you if you’re caught as a realtor using drones without a license can be up to $32,000. 

Most of the time, a realtor or real estate agent will use a trusted drone services provider to capture the aerial photography, videography, or mapping of a property.

However, it’s very tempting to simply go out and buy a drone and take pictures of the property themselves. 

Realtors and real estate agents need to be aware that the FAA has begun researching and investigating all types of media and Internet platforms to catch these folks using drones for commercial purposes without a license. 

Many YouTubers have found themselves under the investigation and penalties of the FAA because they have flown and made a profit off of videos on YouTube with drone footage in them.

While you might argue that you’re not making money directly off the aerial photography or videography that you take from your drone, you are gaining profit from these drone pictures because the drone pictures and video have assisted you in selling the property.

Exactly how much aerial photography and videography helps may be up for debate, but the FAA has made its decision.

Drone photography and videography are something great to include in your real estate listing, and while some real estate agents might consider the FAA’s rules to be overreaching in terms of how direct the aerial media helps sell properties, it’s not an unfounded one.

According to MLS (Mulitple Listing Service) data, drone photography and drone videography in real estate listings have been shown to make the listing 68% more likely to sell.

Drone pilots who professionally fly drones for a living are more skilled and are usually contact creators, media producers, or photographers, so they know the ins and outs of how to create a quality real estate listing as far as the media goes.

However, if you are a real estate agent who wishes to get your own Part 107 license, keep reading.

The Part 107 Test #

Getting your Part 107 certificate requires you to take a test at a local Part 107 Testing Center. Usually, the centers are based near airports within offices or aviation center buildings.

Keeping that in mind, the test you have to take is a fairly strict one with a knowledge base that encompasses airspace rules, regulations, science on flight performance, LAANC, and more.

You have to have a thorough understanding of these topics to pass the test.

The test is known for its difficulty, which is why pilots often take a class so they can practice all the material, and in many cases learn more than they need to know for the test.

See our recommended courses below.

The test is randomized, so not all people get the same questions. This prevents any cheating from happening, and it also negates the option to only learn some of the material.

However, it is known that the Part 107 test relies heavily on airspace regulations.

This is because so many drone pilots new to the profession are not aware of the airspace laws and regulations that keep manned flights (planes and helicopters) safe from any hazards with drones.

It’s important to understand these regulations because you could be flying in the path of an airstrip, which can lead to a plane crash and the loss of human life.

With that said, the Part 107 test aims to ensure that you know exactly what you’re doing.

The Part 107 certificate is an official FAA drone license, allowing you to pilot drones commercially. Therefore it has an all-encompassing knowledge base that you have to learn.

There are many different ways you can go about learning the Part 107 principles, but one of the best ways to take a class.

» MORE: Best Drone Courses for Beginners (Part 107 & More)

Part 107 Classes #

Pilot Institute (my choice) #

As a professional drone pilot and owner of Unmanned Aerial Operations, I elected to take the courses offered by Pilot institute. It was a well-rounded, thorough class that I could take at my own pace. I passed the Part 107 test on my first try!

Pilot Institute provides a Part 107 course that is comprehensive and simple to follow. To pass Part 107, the FAA recommends that you spend 20 hours studying.

The Pilot Institute offers 15 hours worth of instruction. However, I completed the class over 2 months and really absorbed the information.

This course is perfect when combined with light reading from other sources. A commercial pilot who flies manned aircraft is the one teaching course. 

The videos are brief and easy to follow, allowing you to absorb more information.

Pilot Institute provides lifetime access to its course. This allows you to save money as you can use the course to refresh your knowledge two years later when facing renewal. 

And you can take unlimited practice exams in preparation for the exam. That’s a big deal.

Pilot Institute provides an illustrated cheat sheet to help you remember key concepts and prepare for the exam.

You can access the course from both your mobile or offline device. They are also the only course that offers a mobile flashcard app on iOS and Android.

Pilot Institute has trained more than 150,000 pilots. Pilot Institute will refund you 100% if you fail to pass the exam. 

Pilot Institute also offers many other drone courses in its catalog. 

Drone Pilot Ground School #

With their 350+ multiple-choice questions and five full-length practice exams, you can learn the FAA’s test concepts. As mentioned before, the FAA tests are randomized, so taking these different practice tests will really help prepare you. 

You’ll receive a performance report along with a breakdown of incorrect answers after you have completed a practice test.

The ground school curriculum was created in collaboration with former chief pilots of a Part 141 flight academy and certified flight instructors.

The course includes 70+ video and text lectures. The course is available to students who pay once, and they will have lifetime access. Students receive industry updates emails once per week. They can also reach out at any time to ask questions.

One more thing: Drone Pilot Ground School not only helps you pass the test but also offers bonus lessons that will give you an understanding of how drone service companies are run. 

This topic will discuss the legal aspects you should consider, how drones can help you market real estate, the liability of drone business owners, and how to successfully operate a drone business.

This bonus material is a treasure trove of information for those who are aiming to start their own drone business.

DART Drones #

DART Drones is a well-known drone flight school because of Mark Cuban’s successful pitch on Shark Tank. Mark invested $300,000 and 10% equity in the company.

DART Drones has experienced rapid growth in its trainees, staff, and curriculum since the feature. There are currently more than 40 training centers located across the United States.

DART Drones offers a variety of courses that cover everything from Part 107 preparation to a professional package for drone pilots. You can also take advanced courses like an aerial photography course and courses on specific drone models. 

Online courses are the most common, but they also offer in-person courses such as advanced flight instruction.

DART Drones’ courses are priced according to the content and delivery method. The Drones for Beginner course costs $19.99 and is entirely video based. 

You might be interested in the Professional Drone Pilot Package, which costs $1,450 and includes Part 107 knowledge preparation and in-person training.

It also includes many popular online courses about drone photography and starting a drone company.

 Drone U #

This is an excellent pick for relators who want to get their Part 107 drone license while also learning the ins and outs of drones and how to use them.

Drone U offers probably offers the most extensive range of courses. You will find the right course for you, whether it is a beginner or advanced course in drone photography or different drone sensors.

Drone U’s unique pricing model is what makes them stand out. Instead of charging an upfront fee to take a single course, Drone U charges a $47 per month fee for all future training courses.

You’ll also become part of their private drone pilot community and have access to drone and business experts.

Drone U offers free content for those who can’t afford the monthly fees. You can access their podcast and video resources for absolutely no cost.

If you are an agent looking to get a full-bodied education on drones, this is the course for you!

Final thoughts on Real Estate Agents getting their Part 107 #

As a drone service professional, I respect real estate agents that turn to professional pilots to provide them with aerial media. It helps keep us in business.

However, there are some areas where drone pilots might be sparse. If this is the case, this article is a great guide for agents who want to take things into their own hands.

Keep in mind that if you do happen to fly your drone on a real estate listing without the license, you do risk incurring some pretty heavy fines. It’s best to get your drone license, and while it may be hard, it’s certainly worth it.


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