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Drones used for home sale photos could be grounded

The Federal Aviation Administration released its interpretation of model aircraft use, stating that agents "using a model aircraft to photograph a property that he (or she) is trying to sell and using the photos in the property's real estate listing does not constitute hobby or recreational use."

The ruling means real estate professionals could be subject to FAA's safety and designated airspace enforcement.

What's more, the FAA's interpretation also states that "a person photographing a property or event and selling the photos to someone else" does not qualify for the hobby or recreation exemption. This includes photographers hired by agents or brokers to shoot aerial photos of a property.

The popularity of drones has become a growing trend in real estate with the technology of unmanned aircraft becoming more affordable, as well as the increased capacity of high-resolution photos and video from lightweight cameras.

However, all civil aircraft are subject to FAA regulation under U.S. law. Currently, the commercial use of drones is only permissible on a case-by-case basis, and an FAA certificate of airworthiness is required.

The FAA is currently developing a system for integrating commercial use drones into the national airspace. The National Association of Realtors reportedly is working with the FAA to expedite the development of rules to allow real estate professionals to utilize drone technology to market properties, according to Russell Riggs, NAR's senior regulatory policy representative.

FAA's interpretation is open for public comment through July 25, 2014, and the agency "may modify this interpretation based on comments received."

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