Why I Got My FAA Drone Pilot’s License for Real Estate

Joel Sandman, GRI
Published on February 7, 2019

Why I Got My FAA Drone Pilot’s License for Real Estate

I’m excited to begin using drone photography for my real estate business in 2019! The process to obtain a FAA approved commercial drone pilot’s license is pretty involved and difficult but definitely worth the time and effort.

My Introduction to Drones

I’m constantly trying to think of other services that I can provide my clients that would be of value. I started doing some research into different brands and models of drones that are available and eventually I settled on the DJI Mavic Air. There were a lot of features that I was excited about, especially the form factor. I can pack all the equipment including extra batteries in a small bag and head out for the day. The 4K camera is great and all of the different sensors make flying a breeze.

DJI Mavic Air, it literally fits in the palm of my hand!

I bought the drone a few months ago and have been practicing capturing and editing footage around my home and family events. However, I have not been able to use this commercially due to the regulations set forth by the FAA. As a commercial pilot you are held to a much higher standard than someone who is only flying for recreation. Ideally I would have had my license sooner but the government shutdown didn’t help with that!

Here is my first attempt at making a video after the recent storm in central North Carolina.

Taking The FAA Exam

I just recently took my Part 107 licensing exam with the FAA to become a certified commercial drone pilot. I’m excited to be able to provide another level of service to my clients. I love how aerial photography and videography can add another dimension to a home that you just can’t get from traditional photography.

PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay

The exam was extremely difficult. I had to learn to read sectional charts in order to understand airspace restrictions, meteorological aviation reports (METAR), terminal aerodome forecasts (TAF) and crew resource management, among other things. Take a look at this example of a METAR report, until you learn some of the basics it looks like it could be another language.

The exam consists of 60 multiple choice questions and you have 2 hours to complete the test. I registered for the exam at the Triad Air, located at Smith-Reynolds Airport. You can find the drone testing location nearest you here. 

If you are thinking of taking the exam yourself, I would highly recommend checking out Tony & Chelsea Northrup’s YouTube Channel. They even have a great video on much of the content that is covered on the exam, you can check that out here!

How I Plan To Use My License

While my career in real estate has been great, I want to be able to offer another service to my clients. Initially I am going to use my drone to photograph and take videos of my listings. This will be included at no charge to any of my clients and should make my clients’ homes more marketable and that is my ultimate goal. I’m particularly excited to use this for neighborhood flyovers, luxury homes, properties with a great, natural setting and vacant land listings.

In the near future, I may start to offer this service to other agents. If I can be of service, please let me know!

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