Political Advocacy

As UAS technology becomes more efficient, easy to use, and affordable, UAS-obtained images will become more commonplace in real estate. UASs provide a completely new and different perspective of the property and allow the agent to add value to the real estate transaction. Using UASs in other real estate related businesses such as insurance evaluations and roof inspections will make tasks easier, faster, cheaper, and less dangerous to complete.

The FAA released a rule for small UASs in June 2016 that provides a more predictable pathway to use. The rule creates an education, testing and certification scheme for commercial UAS operators. The rule also provides more clarity about what operations are permissible.

NAR Policy:

NAR supports efforts to create new federal regulations to allow for the future commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicle technology by the real estate industry.

NAR is committed to working with the Federal Aviation Administration, and any other relevant federal agencies, during the regulatory approval process. The National Association of REALTORS® will continue its ongoing efforts to educate REALTORS® about the current and future regulatory structure for the safe and responsible operation of unmanned aerial vehicles.

Opposition Arguments:

Access to the national airspace must be protected at all costs. Increased use of UASs will reduce safety and increase threats to individual privacy and property rights. UASs are too dangerous for commonplace use and will cause harm to persons or property.

Legislative/Regulatory Status/Outlook

The FAA Modernization Act of 2012 charged the FAA to develop a regulatory framework by 2015 that would integrate unmanned aerial vehicles (UASs) or drones into the national airspace, while ensuring safety, privacy and national security. NAR submitted comments to the FAA on September 23, 2014 to encourage the FAA to quickly act in creating a regulatory framework. In addition, NAR continues to engage the FAA to make sure they understand how our members can use this technology safely and responsibly and how it can add value to the real estate transaction.

On November 17, 2014, a four member panel of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) ruled that drones are subject to FAA jurisdiction and enforcement. The panel reviewed and reversed the decision made by an Administrative Law Judge in the case of Huerta v. Pirker, a landmark case involving the commercial use of drones.

In February 2015, the FAA released its proposed rule for commercial use of small UASs; the final rule was released in June 2016. Under the regime created by the final rule, small UAS operators must obtain a FAA UAS operator certificate by passing an aeronautical knowledge test. No pilot license or Section 333 waivers are required. This final rule for small UAS will go into effect on August 29, 2016.

NAR submitted a comment letter to the FAA during the rulemaking process focusing on real estate-specific uses for UAS and NAR’s commitment to safety and protecting privacy. In addition, NAR submitted multiple letters for Congressional hearings on the issue and testified before the House Judiciary Committee at a hearing addressing commercial use of UAS. NAR also responded to a request for comments by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration on Privacy, Transparency and Accountability Regarding Commercial and Private Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems. These comments addressed many issues in dealing with privacy challenges in using UAS technology in real estate, focusing on NAR’s commitment to honoring citizen privacy rights and espousing best practices for privacy in UAS use. NAR also expressed interest in working alongside the NTIA and other regulators to create industry standards for privacy.

  1. FAA’s next step is to create a rule for “micro UAS,” a class of miniature, lightweight UAS. In March 2016, NAR participated in the FAA Micro UAS Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), which released recommendations on rules for micro UAS operations over people. The FAA is currently reviewing the ARC’s report, and the final rule for micro UAS is hoped to be released by the end of 2016.

Current Legislation/Regulation (bill number or regulation)

The FAA's proposed regulation was released in February 2015.

The FAA released the small UAS rule in June 2016. Here is a brief summary of the rule:



- H.R. 798 (Meeks, D-NY): Responsible Skies Act of 2015

- H.R. 819 (Young, R-AR): Safe Skies for Unmanned Aircraft Act of 2015

- H.R. 1229 (Welch, D-VT): Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act of 2015

- H.R. 1385 (Poe, R-TX): Preserving American Privacy Act of 2015

- S. 387 (Murkowski, R-AK): Safe Skies for Unmanned Aircraft Act of 2015

- S. 1314 (Booker, D-nJ): Commercial UAS Modernization Act

- S. 635 (Markey, D-MA): Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act of 2015

Legislative Contact(s):

Erin Stackley, estackley@realtors.org, 202-383-1150

Ken Wingert, kwingert@realtors.org, 202-383-1196

Regulatory Contact(s):

Stephanie Spear, sspear@realtors.org, 202-383-1018


NAR Committee:

Commercial Legislation and Regulatory Advisory Board