Here we go into the wild blue yonder, flying high…until the FAA cracks down on our lack of licensing for commercial drone use. Did you know that it is illegal to use drone footage for real estate listings without a commercial license? Gone are days when you could hire a kid off the street to shoot your listing “for fun” and use his work on the MLS. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is cracking down with severe fines, in the $10,000 range, for flying a drone for commercial use without a license.

Here are a few things you need to know:

1. Using a drone for real estate listings is considered commercial use. Even if you’re a hobbyist, at the point you use hobby footage for monetary gain, like selling a home, you’ve crossed the threshold into commercial and are open game for the FAA.

2. You must be a licensed pilot to apply for a commercial drone license. Time to slap on the aviators and fire up the crop duster. Commercial drone pilots must first receive a private pilot’s license.

3. Neither private flying lessons nor commercial drone licenses are cheap. The cost of entry into U.S. air space is steep. It’s part of what makes flying one of the safer modes of transportation.

4. You need insurance that actually covers damage from drones. Even with a license, you still need the right insurance policy. When a thirty pound drone walls from the sky, it’s going to cause some damage. And of course no insurance company will cover illegal actions (i.e. flying a drone without a commercial license).

In the end, brokers and REALTORS® need to understand the gravity of the situation and only use certified commercial drone operators for business purposes.