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  • Writer's pictureArcher Tesla

Limitations of Using Drones in Real Estate




Drones have become increasingly popular in the real estate industry, providing new ways to showcase properties. However, as with any new technology, there are also a number of challenges that professionals must navigate when using drones!


Factors such as federal, state, and local laws that govern the use of drones, privacy concerns, the technical difficulties of flying a drone, weather conditions, flight time restrictions, battery life, and also the safety concerns around flying drones in urban environments can make it challenging to utilize drones to their fullest potential.


Despite these challenges, drones have proven to be an invaluable tool in the real estate industry. They provide a unique perspective on properties that were previously unavailable, and they can help to increase efficiency and reduce costs. However, it is important for professionals to be aware of the challenges and limitations associated with using drones, so let's delve into some of the common and not-so-common limitations for professionals taking real estate drone footage.



Legal Restrictions


In Washington state, the use of drones for commercial purposes is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In order to operate a drone for commercial purposes, you must have a Remote Pilot Certificate, which requires you to be at least 16 years old, pass an aeronautical knowledge test, and pass a security background check.


When operating a drone for commercial purposes, you must follow all FAA regulations, including keeping the drone in sight at all times and operating it at or below 400 feet, not flying over people except when they are directly participating in the operation, not interfering with emergency response activities, and not flying in a careless or reckless manner. It's important to also check with local authorities to see if there are any additional laws or regulations that apply to the use of drones in your specific area.




Limited by Safety


There is always a risk of drones crashing or malfunctioning, which can pose a safety hazard to people and property on the ground, so all drone pilots are limited by safe flying guidelines. No pilot should be crashing into electrical poles that take out the neighborhood's power!

Drones are complex pieces of equipment that rely on various components, such as motors, batteries, and sensors, to function properly. If any of these components fail or malfunction, it can cause the drone to crash or behave in an unpredictable way. This can pose a safety hazard to people and property on the ground, as a crashing drone can cause physical harm or damage. In addition to mechanical failures, drones can also crash or malfunction due to operator error, such as losing control of the drone or flying it too close to obstacles. It is important to be aware of these risks and to take steps to minimize them, such as following safety guidelines and conducting regular maintenance on your drone.




Cost of Drones


Drones can be expensive, especially if you need a professional drone for real estate photography. Professional drones are typically more expensive than consumer drones because they are designed for specific applications and are built to higher quality standards. They also come with more advanced features, such as better cameras

and more precise flight controls, which make them well-suited for professional use.

Additionally, professional drones are often larger and more complex than consumer drones, which can also drive up their cost. If you are a real estate photographer looking to use a drone to capture high-quality aerial photos and video, you may need to invest in a professional drone in order to get the results you desire.




Weather Conditions


There are several ways in which weather can impact a drone pilot's ability to conduct a drone shoot. Poor visibility due to fog, rain, or other inclement weather can make it difficult or impossible to safely operate a drone and can also affect the quality of the images or video. Strong winds can make it hard to fly a drone accurately, and very cold or hot temperatures can affect the battery life of the drone. In addition, it is never safe to fly a drone during a storm due to the risk of lightning, rain getting into vital components, or the wind drifting the drone forever away from you. It is important for pilots to consider the weather forecast before scheduling a real estate drone shoot, and to reschedule if necessary due to unfavorable weather conditions.




Limited Range


Most consumer drones have a limited range, which means they can only fly for a certain distance before losing the signal. The limited range of a drone is important to a drone pilot because it determines how far they can fly the drone to capture aerial footage or photos of a property. If the range is too long, you may lose track of how far you went and wander into restricted air space or you're so far away you can't see where you are, making it more difficult to land safely in the event of an emergency. You can also unintentionally break the law if you can no longer see the drone (which states you must be able to keep a direct line of sight of the drone at all times), meaning a longer range is just a waste of money when you can't legally use it to its full extent! Like buying a fast car in a town whose speed limit doesn't exceed 30mph.


On the other hand, if the range is too short, the pilot may not be able to travel great distances, or else they risk breaking their signal with the drone, leaving the drone to fly away until the battery dies, potentially miles away from you. So if you had any more jobs on that SD card, this can mean all the footage on your drone could fly away as well! This can obviously limit their ability to showcase the property in its entirety and provide a comprehensive view to potential buyers or clients.




Limited Flight Time


Most drones can only fly for a limited time before their batteries need to be recharged, which can be inconvenient for real estate photographers who need to capture a lot of footage. A long flight time allows the photographer to cover a larger area in a single shoot, saving time and effort. In addition, a long flight time allows the photographer to fly the drone further away from the property, reducing the risk of collision or damage to the property. Furthermore, a long flight time means fewer battery swaps, which saves time and money for the photographer and the client. In summary, a long flight time is essential for real estate photography as it enables the photographer to capture high-quality images of the property efficiently and safely.



Noise


Drones can be quite loud, which can be a nuisance for neighbors and may be a concern in residential areas. The noise from drones is generated by their motors and propellers and gets louder when the drone is flying at a low altitude. This can be a problem for people who live close to where the drone is being flown, as the noise can be disruptive and annoying. We have definitely had our fair share of people rudely telling us to leave due to the annoyance it caused. Additionally, drones may not be allowed to be flown in certain residential areas due to noise concerns. In some cases, local ordinances may restrict the use of drones in residential areas due to noise considerations. If you are planning on using a drone in a residential area, it is important to be mindful of the noise it may generate and to try to minimize any potential disruption to the neighbors. Perhaps a quiet drone?




Difficulty Flying in Tight Spaces


Drones can have difficulty flying in tight spaces or confined areas for several reasons. One reason is that drones rely on GPS signals to navigate and maintain their position, and these signals can be disrupted or unavailable in certain environments, such as inside buildings or in urban areas with a lot of tall buildings or other obstacles that block the line of sight between the drone and the sky. This can make it difficult for the drone to accurately determine its position, which can make it harder to control and navigate.

Another reason drones may have difficulty flying in tight spaces or confined areas is that they rely on sensors and algorithms to avoid obstacles and maintain a stable flight. In a cluttered environment with a lot of obstacles, the drone may have difficulty detecting and avoiding them, which could lead to collisions or other hazards. Additionally, the limited space in a confined area may make it harder for the drone to maneuver and maintain a stable flight, which could lead to difficulties in capturing the desired images or video. Overall, while drones can be a useful tool for real estate photography, it is important to consider the limitations of the technology and to plan carefully when using drones in tight spaces or confined areas. It's usually better that a drone be flown outside and in wide open areas. When this is not possible, you'll be relying on your skills as a pilot to keep things stable.




Maintenance


Drones are complex machines that consist of many different components, such as motors, batteries, electronics, and sensors, which all need to be properly maintained in order for the drone to operate effectively. One important aspect of drone maintenance is cleaning. Drones are exposed to various elements when they are flown, such as dust, dirt, and debris, which can accumulate on the surface of the drone and affect its performance. In particular, the sensors and cameras that are used to navigate and capture images can become dirty or obstructed, which can affect their accuracy and quality.

To ensure that drones are in good working order, it is important to regularly clean them and remove any dirt or debris that may have accumulated on the surface. This can be done using a soft, dry cloth or a specialized cleaning solution that is safe for use on the drone's materials. In addition to cleaning, drones also require other types of maintenance to ensure that they are functioning properly. For example, the batteries may need to be regularly charged or replaced, the motors and other mechanical components may need to be lubricated, and the firmware and software may need to be updated to fix any bugs or vulnerabilities. Overall, while drones can be a useful and convenient tool for real estate photography, it is important to be aware that they require regular maintenance and cleaning to ensure that they are in good working order. This can be time-consuming, as it requires the pilot to regularly inspect and care for the drone, but it is an essential part of responsible drone ownership and operation.




Difficulty Getting Permission to Fly


In many cases, real estate agents and photographers need to obtain permission before using a drone to capture images or videos of a particular property. This is because drones are considered aircraft, and there are regulations in place that govern their use.

In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is responsible for regulating the use of drones. Under FAA regulations, anyone who wants to fly a drone for commercial purposes, including real estate photography, must obtain a certification called a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate, as we explained above. In addition to the FAA regulations, there may also be local or state laws or ordinances that govern the use of drones. For example, some cities or municipalities may have laws that restrict the use of drones over certain areas or require operators to obtain permission before flying a drone. This can be a time-consuming process, as it may involve filling out paperwork, obtaining approvals, or meeting other requirements. In some cases, it may be necessary to consult with an attorney or other legal professional to ensure that all necessary permissions have been obtained. Overall, while drones can be a useful tool for real estate photography, it is important to be aware of the regulations and requirements that apply to their use and to obtain the necessary permissions before flying a drone over a particular property.




Difficulty Obtaining Insurance


Using drones for real estate photography or other commercial purposes can be a risky endeavor, as drones are complex and potentially hazardous machines that can be affected by a variety of factors, such as weather, equipment failure, or operator error. As a result, it is important for real estate agents and photographers who use drones to have insurance coverage to protect themselves and their businesses from potential losses or liabilities.


However, obtaining insurance coverage for drones can be difficult for several reasons. One reason is that many insurance companies do not offer policies specifically for drones. Instead, agents may need to purchase coverage as part of a general aviation policy, which can be more expensive and may not provide the same level of protection as a dedicated drone policy. Another reason it can be difficult to obtain insurance coverage for drones is that the drone industry is relatively new and rapidly evolving, which can make it challenging for insurance companies to accurately assess the risks and determine appropriate premiums.


Additionally, some insurance companies may be hesitant to offer coverage for drones due to the potential for accidents or incidents, which could result in costly claims. Overall, while it is important for real estate agents and photographers who use drones to have insurance coverage to protect themselves and their businesses, it can be difficult to obtain insurance for drones due to the lack of dedicated policies and the unique risks associated with drone operations. This can be a risk for photographers who rely on drones for their business, as they may not have the same level of protection as they would with other types of insurance.




Competition From Other Professionals



The use of drones for real estate photography and other applications has become increasingly popular in recent years, as drones are able to capture images and video from unique perspectives and can be a useful marketing tool for real estate agents. As a result, there may be a lot of competition among drone pilots to use drones for real estate in some areas. This competition can make it difficult for individual pilots to stand out and attract clients, as there may be many other pilots offering similar services.


To be successful in this market, pilots may need to differentiate themselves from their competitors by offering unique features or services, such as higher-quality images or faster turnaround times. Additionally, competition among drone pilots may lead to a saturated market for drone services, which could result in lower prices and less profitability for individual pilots. This can make it more difficult for pilots to sustain their businesses and may lead to a shakeout in the market, as only the most skilled or successful pilots are able to stay in business.


Overall, while the use of drones for real estate photography can be a lucrative business opportunity, there may be a lot of competition among drone pilots in some areas, which can make it difficult for pilots to stand out and may lead to a saturated market for drone services.




Lack of Experience



It is important for drone pilots to have experience for several reasons. One reason is that operating a drone requires a certain level of skill and proficiency, as drones are complex and potentially hazardous machines that can be affected by a variety of factors, such as weather, equipment failure, or operator error.

Pilots who have experience are more likely to have developed the necessary skills and knowledge to safely and effectively operate a drone. Another reason why experience is important for drone pilots is that it can help them to better understand the regulations and requirements that apply to drone operations. In many countries, there are laws and regulations that govern the use of drones, and it is important for pilots to be familiar with these rules in order to operate their drones legally and safely.


Additionally, experience can be important for drone pilots when it comes to working with clients and providing high-quality services. Pilots who have experience may have a better understanding of the specific needs and preferences of their clients and may be able to offer more informed recommendations and advice.

Overall, while it is possible for someone to learn how to operate a drone without any prior experience, having experience as a drone pilot can be beneficial in terms of safety, compliance, and customer service.







In Conclusion


In conclusion, drones have become a valuable tool in the real estate industry, providing a unique perspective on properties and increasing efficiency and reducing costs. However, professionals must navigate various challenges, including federal, state, and local laws, privacy concerns, technical difficulties, and safety concerns. It is important for professionals to be aware of these challenges and limitations in order to fully utilize the potential of drones in the real estate industry.


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