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Highflying Appraisal Practices!

New gear, yahoo!!!! Who doesn’t want new toys, especially one that can make you better at your profession! Drones, whether you love them or want to shoot them out of the sky, appear to be here to stay.

The real estate industry has been quick to dive into this new and innovative technology and appraisers are no exception. With the use of drones increasing The Appraisal Foundation found it important to produce an FAQ (FAQ 214) to answer some of the questions surrounding the use of aerial viewing and its relationship to credible appraisal results.

The main advantage to using a drone, in appraisal practice, is making hard to reach places easily accessible.

Here are a couple of examples of how drone use can reduce your liability and create a more credible appraisal report. In regions where drive-by inspections are not uncommon, the addition of a drone can turn a drive-by into a flyby. You could potentially uncover conditions at the subject property that would’ve otherwise been missed from the street, producing a more credible appraisal result.

How about making rugged or wet terrain more accessible and being able to capture a birds-eye view.

I’ve even heard from one appraiser, in Colorado, who used it to demonstrate the view from the third floor of a proposed construction, thereby being able to document the benefit of the view.

The uses are virtually endless, but they are not unregulated.

Here are a few facts that you need to be aware of before you start using a drone in your appraisal practice.

Drones are flown by either remote control or by an onboard computer. In technical terms, aerial drones are referred to as UAVs or unmanned aerial vehicles. Appraisers would use small drones, less than 55 pounds. Small drones are also referred to as sUAS (small Unmanned Aircraft Systems).

In August 2016, the commercialization of drone use was enacted by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA’s final rule has revolutionized commercial operations of small drones. The rule replaced its previous commercial sUAS regime requiring individual, case-by-case adjudications and establishing a broad authority for pilots to operate within certain parameters.

Commercial operators, which would include appraisers using them for site inspections, of sUAS weighing 55 lbs or less will no longer need to petition for a Section 333 exemption if the operation falls under the new rule (also known as Part 107). Part 107 requires remote pilots-in-command (RPIC) to maintain visual line of sight with the sUAS at all times and to operate at a maximum altitude of 400 feet, at a maximum speed of 100 mph, during daytime hours, and not above non-participants. The RPIC will need to pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test, be at least 16 years old, and be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration. The first test was administered on August 29, 2016, at FAA-approved knowledge testing centers.

Small drones used for recreational, commercial, governmental or other purposes must be registered with FAA. The registration only cost five dollars and is valid for a period of three years.

Prices of camera drones have come down. You can buy an entry-level camera drone for less than $350 USD. For close to $1,500 USD you can purchase a drone with professional image quality and performance. My recommendation is to buy an $89 drone without a camera to practice around your own property and drive your family crazy! Choose a drone that features an auto return to home when the battery runs low, for obvious reasons.

In the future, we will be releasing a seven-hour accredited continuing Ed course that will include a simulator to help you get started. It will include forms and phrases to help you integrate this highflying technology into your everyday practice.