Tuesday, November 29, 2022 | The Latest Buzz for the Appraisal Industry

Beyond the Line of Sight – Aerial Inspections

New technologies are promising better results in real estate inspections. From 3-D modeling cameras to drones, the on-site inspection of real estate is changing. Real estate appraisers, agents, architects, attorneys, developers, property managers, insurance companies, even owners and investors are currently using drones to obtain valuable information.

Why haven’t aerial inspections taken off? Because the playing field is still to be defined. The rules and regulations are still being written and they will have a direct influence on how to obtain aerial information. Even though it is legal to conduct an aerial inspection on most properties, there are still hurdles that need to be overcome. The main obstacle is that clients aren’t asking for aerial inspections, so why would an appraiser adopt aerial inspections into practice? Because, once the rules are finalized, the adoption of drones into real estate will be requested. From photography to mapping, drones will be everywhere.

The FAA and NASA have been conducting tests over the last several years to gain information for the safe adoption of aerial technology into the national airspace. Large corporations who have been identified as stakeholders are contributing valuable data to develop a safe airspace for both manned and unmanned aircraft. Industry surveys have already been proven that using aerial technology is typically safer, saves time, saves money, and the data acquisition far exceeds what can be acquired in a ground based inspection. It is just a matter of time before there is a larger market for aerial data.

Currently, there are a number of operational rules that remote pilots are required to follow. Aside from airspace clearance, the biggest rule that industry experts are waiting on to be resolved is the rule concerning line of sight. The line of sight rule states that the remote pilot must always keep the drone within a clear line of sight. The remote pilot can also use a visual observer to view the drone while in flight as long as there is an established clear line of communication between the pilot and observer. The issue with this rule is that it is difficult to maintain a clear line of sight on large acreage properties or around obstacles such as buildings and trees. Once the beyond of sight flight is allowed, then aerial inspections will become more commonplace.

Currently, only a few opportunities exist to learn aerial technology and gain an advantage when it does become approved. The best way to gain experience is to visit the FAA/UAS website and learn how to become a remote pilot and register your drone.  Organizations such as the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), and YouTube are also great resources. Understanding how aerial inspections can be used will give an appraiser an advantage in this growing market in the future.

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