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Florida real estate industry benefits from aerial drones

Photographs are particularly useful in aiding commercial real estate transactions. With the use of aerial pictures and videos, developers and property-management companies are able to provide more in-depth and visually appealing data to show off various aspects of their properties. This may be one of the reasons this industry has seen so many applications filed with the Federal Aviation Administration to operate unmanned drones.

According to Fortune magazine, a Section 333 exemption can be granted to a U.S. company so that a drone can be used for commercial purposes, although the ways that they can be employed are limited to low-risk operations. Of the first 1,000 of those permits issued, real estate companies have received approximately 35 percent. Florida is one of the leading states in receiving these exemptions, along with California and Texas.

The Florida Senate has passed legislation dealing specifically with the use of aerial drones in the state, which is known as the Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act. According to the statute, a drone is defined as a vehicle with the following characteristics:

  •          Able to carry a payload
  •          Receives lift from aerodynamic forces
  •          Is autonomous or remotely piloted
  •          Does not have an onboard human operator
  •          May be recoverable or expendable

The law is very specific about uses of drones that are prohibited. Drone operators may not view or record people or private property from the air where the images or video could not be taken from the ground. Any images that are captured are a violation of privacy if the person has not given written consent. Real estate companies in Florida should familiarize themselves with these laws to avoid any legal issues when they are using drones to survey properties for sale.

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