Q: We are getting ready to sell our home, and one of our neighbors offered, for a small fee, to take some aerial pictures with his drone. Are there any rules or restrictions we need to know about? – Susan
A: Drones, or unmanned aircraft systems, are revolutionizing the videos and photos people take to market and sell their homes.
Smart real estate agents and homeowners are marketing with vista views of the property and surrounding neighborhood. This sort of photography used to be out of reach of all but wealthy homeowners, but now it's available to all comers.
The law still is still catching up to this technology, and new rules are popping up all the time. Both the Federal Aviation Administration and most state governments have been quick to enact regulations designed to ensure the public safety and privacy.
Anyone using drones to take pictures to sell someone else's property must abide by the rules, though hobbyists who are flying smaller model aircraft within their line of sight solely for their own enjoyment generally are exempt.
Penalties include fines and liability for getting sued if you caused damage to another person's property. In very rare occasions, you could face criminal charges.
The pilots must ensure that the drones weigh less than 55 pounds, fly less than 100 mph, below 400 feet off the ground and stay within view of the pilots.
Also, the drones can't be operated from a moving vehicle, although that just seems like common sense.
If you live close to an airport, stadium or similar buildings, you probably won't be able to use a drone. This can be confusing, but the FAA has an app to help you stay within the guidelines (www.faa.gov).
Before you hire your neighbor, make sure he is licensed by the FAA to pilot a drone. To get that license, he would have had to read, write and speak English, pass a test and a Transportation Safety Administration background check.
Follow the rules, and you'll be able to take magnificent pictures to help you get your property sold quickly and for top dollar.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at www.sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.