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Real Estate Drone And UAV Photography

In the United States the use of drones for aerial real estate photography is currently being evaluated by the FAA. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) had this to say:

The National Association of REALTORS® has instructed its members to not use drones nor hire photographers or videographers who use drones for capturing aerial images of listings until the FAA issues its final guidelines. Those who continue to use drones may be fined by the FAA.

That ruling by the FAA is not expected until 2017 or even later.

“The consensus of opinion is the integration of unmanned systems will likely slip from the mandated deadline until 2017 or even later,” says Gerald Dillingham, the GAO’s director of civil aviation.

In Canada it’s somewhat different.

Although it may be tempting to fly your camera equipped UAV over a new listing and get some cool aerial shots; check first, it’s not as simple as you might think.

In a recent conversation with Transport Canada it was made abundantly clear that the strict rules governing the operation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) must be precisely adhered to. Flying your UAV or drone when and where you shouldn’t could have some serious repercussions. Think safety.

There are a few Do’s and Don’ts to be aware of (there is a link to Transport Canada’s website at the bottom of this post). Depending on the weight of your aircraft you may require permission to fly it and have successfully completed a pilot ground school program.


  • Only fly your aircraft during daylight and in good weather (not in clouds or fog);
  • Always keep your aircraft in sight, where you can see it with your own eyes – not only through an on-board camera, monitor or smartphone;
  • Make sure your aircraft is safe for flight before take-off. Ask yourself, for example, are the batteries fully charged? Is it too cold to fly?
  • Know if you need permission to fly and when to apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate;
  • Respect the privacy of others – avoid flying over private property or taking photos or videos without permission.

Don’t fly:

  • Closer than 9 km from any airport, heliport, or aerodrome;
  • Higher than 90 metres from above the ground;
  • Closer than 150 metres from people, animals, buildings, structures, or vehicles;
  • In populated areas or near large groups of people, including sporting events, concerts, festivals, and firework shows;
  • Near moving vehicles, avoid highways, bridges, busy streets or anywhere you could endanger or distract drivers;
  • Within restricted airspace, including near or over military bases, prisons, and forest fires;
  • Anywhere you may interfere with first responders.

For less than one-hundred dollars you can purchase a camera equipped quad-copter (a four rotor battery powered drone available on Amazon) and start taking aerial photographs of your listings. Sounds easy. Research suggests otherwise. The one-hundred dollar cheapie may be fun to fly but the video is by no means broadcast quality, not even close. Achieving good quality photography and perhaps recording some reasonably viewable video footage with this aircraft would be difficult at best – even for a professional – close to impossible for an amateur like me.

A quality machine could set you back several thousands of dollars and may not include a controller or a camera. Incorporating DIY aerial photography into your real estate business is a good idea, no doubt about it, but it’s costly and time consuming and perhaps should left to the professionals, for now…

Before you fly a UAV or Drone in Canada visit this Transport Canada website. Here is a chart with more details.



  1. flitelab says:

    Most real estate shoots in Canada will require an SFOC to be done legally. The exemptions are really focused on rural applications, most real estate would fall within the restriction of 9KM from a built-up area. http://blog.flitelab.com/2014/12/19/new-sfoc-exemption-summary/


  2. CliveRichey says:

    Thanks flitelab. I work in Kamloops, BC and 9KM pretty much covers the entire city.


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