This Week In Real Estate Video #105 – NAR Says Don’t Use RCMA For Marketing

April 4th, 2014

NARonRCMAProbably the most significant thing happening in the last few weeks in real estate video is the NAR’s statement on RCMA. In the March/April issue of their association magazine the NAR (National Association of Realtors) recommended to it’s members, “…members should not use drones for real estate marketing purposes or hire companies to do so.” I’ve gotten feedback that this has discouraged many agents from hiring RCMA photography/videography.

Along with the statement in RealtorMag they put together a YouTube video that has Russell Riggs, NAR Senior Policy Representative, explaining the NAR’s rationale for their policy statement.

While I appreciate the NAR position of showing respect for the FAA’s position on this subject I feel obligated to expose both sides of this argument. I think the best description of the other side of this situation/argument is by Peter Sachs at Drone Law Journal. Peter’s front page, titled “Current Drone Law.” Among other things Peter explains the position that there has never been law of any kind regarding RCMA.

Everyone has to evaluate their own situation and decide where they are on this issue and what they are personally going to do. As many have stated well in previous post on this subject, the primary consideration is safety and protecting yourself against liability if you choose to fly commercially.

Update April 8 2014: As Fred Light points out in his comment below, the NAR has joined with many other organizations in sending this letter to the FAA urging them to speed up their process for creating rules to regulate the use of UAS.

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18 Responses to “This Week In Real Estate Video #105 – NAR Says Don’t Use RCMA For Marketing”

  • Let me be the first to fan the flames…

    This video was produced before, well before the recent ruling, as many are aware the FAA is trying to appeal the verdict but until it does commercial AP from RC’s is legal.

    “Everyone has to evaluate their own situation and decide where they are on this issue and what they are personally going to do. As many have stated well in previous post on this subject, the primary consideration is safety and protecting yourself against liability if you choose to fly commercially.” This is true regardless of what bureaucratic pin heads and the FAA claim is legal. You’d think Russell Riggs would support its members to use whatever tools are available to market property instead of the FAA.

    Instead of making this video maybe he should be working with people trying to support “his” members in creating a safe and profitable AP for real estate business.

  • Well said Chuck. Especially your last sentence.

  • I think for now it’s perfectly legal. I wouldn’t hesitate to use a company that took video using drone technology. NAR has plenty on their plate right now since the best and brightest minds they had on their payroll now work for Zillow. Clearly THERE IS NO LAW YET ABOUT DRONES. I wish they would find a better, more productive use of their time (that we pay for with our dues) than dictating how to adhere to LAWS THAT DON’T EXIST YET. Just my 2 cents worth…

  • Like Chuck said, keep in mind this video was made before the recent ruling that confirmed commercial RCMA use is legal

  • Ok, I’ll add some LOX to the flames.

    As the head of a national organization, Mr. Riggs is correct in taking a conservative approach to RCMA AP. Should he advocate for RCMA AP at this point and one of NAR’s members fall afoul of a restriction, whether it’s Federal, State or local, he will be jeopardizing his position and the integrity of the NAR.

    I will agree that the NAR’s participation in developing the regulations regarding commercial AP from RCMA’s would go a long way towards getting legislation that is acceptable to the industry. Whether you want legislation or not, it’s going to come. With some clear guidelines (laws), insurance companies are going to be more willing to write policies that cover the practice. Without liability insurance, brokers may prohibit agents from contracting for RCMA AP to limit their exposure. Those that choose to go ahead without coverage may find themselves out of business with the first mishap.

  • It seems that this is a much more manageable fire than in the past which is a good thing…

    My concern isn’t in what he said, although I don’t agree with that either, its that he said anything at all. A federal judge stated that shooting pictures commercially from drones is legal and if the FAA wants to regulate it they must follow the process that they themselves, along with congress, created for developing regulations.

    The problem with this video and the message I think its trying to convey is that Mr. Riggs picked a side, as it turns out, the wrong side but he had no way of knowing that, and that he wanted his members to follow the FAA’s ban on commercial AP. He would have been much wiser to not enter publicly into the debate because now he has a real problem.

    The world of commercial AP, at least the part of it that effects most of us is broken down into three main camps, Hobbyists, Industrial and Entertainment. Hobbyists have pretty much made it through most of this unscathed, the FAA didn’t seem to care about restricting their activities and they have the AMA to represent them during the NPRM process. I’m not sure who will represent the Entertainment industry, not that there won’t be hordes of people tripping over themselves to do it but your probably going to see a lot of infighting between trade organizations who might not want AP from MR’s to be legal, so that brings me to the Industrial.

    Mr Riggs would be in a much stronger position if instead of telling his constituents to “follow the rules” he told the FAA that he represents X-thousands of people who need this service and who could he work with at the FAA to get this resolved? By taking the position in the video he abdicated any role that his national organization might have played in the NPRM process. Which really sucks, because if there was any trade organization that should have advocated for commercial Ap I would have thought it would have been the NAR.

    Because he publicly stated his position any leverage the NAR might have had was lost with the recent federal ruling.

  • Agents I shoot for brought me this article. I spoke with my local MLS and Real Estate Commission. Neither one of them had a problem with it (yet as the commission said). That was good enough for my agents to be satisfied. Drone on until further notice.

    With that, I am careful. Shooting a home is not the time to show it off to the neighbors by taking it as high as it can go. I do what I do and get it on the ground to reduce risk. Fuddy Duddy, maybe, but I wouldn’t want my kids to have one fall on them.

  • The main thing I’m worried about is insurance. Would really hate to lose my business because of an accident, and from what I hear, insurance companies aren’t too keen on this.

  • Now that I am an agent as well as a photographer, I’m hesitant about super elevated photography because I feel it could be regarded as misrepresenting the property. Those angles/views could only be seen by a buyer if he rented a helicopter or cherry-picker. Front shots of a home sited on a steep hill certainly look better when photographed “head on” by means of elevation, but that is never going to be the real curb view of the home.

  • @Susanne, should satalite views then also nnot be used unless you are selling to an astronaut?

  • @Susanne, elevated photography provides a view that simply shows the homes location in context of it neighbors house, a stream or view, or relative to an intersection etc..

    Plus in a lot of aerial videos you can certainly see the condition of the roof.

  • As soon as one of these falls and seriously harms or kills someone (or kid) it is GAME OVER. You know it, I know it, everybody knows it. While RE is a fairly safe use of drones there are idiots out there crashing them into crowds practically every week. The sports photographers seem to be especially bad pilots in heavily populated locations. Anyway, the first time a trial lawyer gets a paralyzed kid or distraught parent on CNN look out.

  • @ICBMcat – Actually it just happened this last weekend in Perth, Australia. A woman running in a Triathlon was hit in the head by a UAV see: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/river-of-blood-after-drone-hits-australian-athlete-20140407-zqruh.html#ixzz2yF1SpNcy

    Australia has laws in place and licensing and certification but apparently that didn’t help… there is a dispute as to whether or not the pilot was licensed.

  • And cars kill and maim people every day but I don’t see that they have been outlawed. However, there are governmental controls in place to ensure that their pilots, er, drivers, are trained and permitted. Not that that seems to eliminate the carnage.

    And why it seems to be assumed that commercial use is any more dangerous or offers any more invasion of privacy than the same unit in the hands of a private person.

    And I do not agree that an aerial shot is any the less a distortion of reality than an ultra wide angle shot is. This is all about communication, showing the relationship of the structures to the property itself and certainly does not take the place of the normal photo coverage, it just adds a dimension to it.

    Having said that, in the wrong hands these unmanned photo flying vehicles or whatever euphemism you like, like guns or cars or medications, they can be dangerous and can be an invasion of privacy. It might be a good idea for real estate photographers to come up with a good ethical guide to their use both for safety and for not invading other’s privacy.

    The new Phantom 2 Vision+released yesterday with a more controllable camera and gimbal can at least provide more direction to the photography. But like the NRA, I think the use of these products should be user guided. Although we know how that worked out on Wall Street. But if commercial users exercise wisdom in their use, it will not provide an excuse to those who are trying to deny the ability to use these flying cameras the ability to provide agents with more marketing tools.

  • @Fred – Thanks for the link – Glad to hear that NAR is pushing the FAA!

  • article on Google acquiring of drone company http://www.forbes.com/sites/gregorymcneal/2014/04/14/fight-for-internet-drones-heats-up-as-google-buys-drone-company-originally-sought-by-Facebook/ I think the aerial shots will be better resolution soon and free to use….does this put a dent into some looking for the new hook? Compete with Google…I don’t think I could. This will put a whole new spin on the subject.

  • I commented on this in the other thread, but this is a little like if you were a bicycle messenger in a city and Google purchased a lot of tractor trailers for delivery, it would have little, if any effect on your delivery business. Google mail on the other hand could have a profound effect.

    That link is broken by the way.

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