Real estate fines


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Great question.  

I’ve done a fair amount of work in upper income neighborhoods and have been questioned about this from surrounding property owners quite a few times.  

There are a couple of issues, do you have the authority to fly and what are the neighbors privacy rights.  The only agency that can regulate airspace is the FAA, as long as you have permission to fly in the airspace, class-G for example, and a 107 then you can fly even if that means overflying the neighbors property.  Common sense goes a long way here.  

obviously if the neighbor is having a party in the back yard you’d be better off rescheduling. They have a reasonable right to privacy and you don’t need the headache if someone recognizes themselves in the property marketing.  Also you can’t overfly people.

If there’s a classic car, or a vehicle that’s obvioisly expensive, shoot around it.  People are sensitive to not making it public that there a valuable item at that location. However, if it’s in the driveway in the front of the house parked in the open then your not obligated to do that but it’s always a good idea to be as respectful of peoples privacy as possible.  That goes for the property you’ve been hired to shoot.  Often times the property owner might have an expensive car parked in the driveway and they don’t think about how detailed 4K aerial can be, asking them to move the car is always a good idea.  If they don’t care or they wanted it included in the shot they’ll tell you.  

Sometimes the house next door looks great from the front and the backyard is a total disaster, obviously for the sake of your client you wouldn't want to show that either, but you might find the neighbor whispering sweet nothings in your ear because they’re embarrassed but don’t want to admit it.  

How you deal with this also depends on the relationship  between the agent, client and neighbors.  Some have been great and couldn’t care less, others hated each other and they might even goes as far to threaten to shoot you down.  You probably know the area well, if you have a good working relationship with the agent they’ll know where the bombs are barried.  “Let’s shoot the aerial of the front of the property at 1pm when the neighbor is out shopping” sort of thing.  

I’ve never heard of anyone being fined.  I had a security guard try and confiscate my equipment once.  They don’t have a right to do that, I doubt they even have the authority to stop you.  But it’s not all about the rules.  You have to be a people person and be able to deal with a lot of egos while keeping yours out of it.  

Prior to UAVs, all but the more expensive properties could afford aerial and the only way they could get it was from a manned aircraft.  They almost always got the house next door in the shot.  The big difference is they probably didn’t know when you were shooting them.  


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in addition to Av8Chucks advice, Here are three additional and common sense  rules that help avoid complications when collecting videos and pictures for real estate clients - as well as home owners looking for aerial views of their property. 
1- Ask the agent to alert the home owner that a professional licensed drone operator has been asked to take aerial photos of the property. 
2- Always knock on the residence door to alert the home owner when you arrive and to ask if there are any concerns. 
3- if there are other people in the area, introduce your self with an explanation of your authorization and with a professional business card that lists your Company and license number. 
I have been doing hundreds of real estate shoots over the last 4 years using these steps and common sense and never had a problem. In fact, it can end up in an additional client. 

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It's also good to know your state and local laws on privacy.  They can conflict with FAA FARS since they are written by people who don't understand FAA FARS.  If one of the neighbors claims his wife was sunbathing and you were peeping with your drone, then you could wind up in a lawsuit.  That is why it is important to have liability insurance.

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