The Growing Use of Drones in Appraisal

drones appraisalDrones are increasingly becoming a more common sight. From adventurers documenting their epic journeys to commercial real estate—there’s a myriad of uses and enthusiasts. The real estate industry has been quick to dive into this new and innovative technology, and appraisers are no exception. What are the advantages to using drones in appraisal? Drones can provide different and unique perspectives on properties, and many believe they can give useful information for a credible appraisal.

A significant obstacle that drone users once faced in the United States was the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. In certain situations, FAA would grant businesses the right to fly drones commercially, but that went on a case-by-case basis with specific (and often difficult to meet) regulations the businesses had to abide by.

However, starting August 29, 2016, drones were officially legal to fly commercially, opening up ample opportunities for appraisers to tap into this new technology for a whole new appraisal experience.

Using drones in appraisal

Appraisers are flying the devices to gain more comprehensive views of properties, and clients are happy to have this additional perspective. Drones offer a better look at the roof, for example, and can rotate 360 degrees to provide a view of the surrounding properties. Without using a drone, this footage would be difficult to attain.

New models like the DJI Mavic are currently capable of hovering within large indoor spaces, making interior shots a new possibility. Though the technology is not currently available, in the future, drones may be able to fly in tight indoor spaces such as small attics and crawlspaces. Eventually, advancing drone technology may make it possible to get an accurate appraisal without having to climb through small crawlspaces or navigate through dark attics.

Whether you need to do a roof inspection, get a 360-degree panoramic view of the properties nearby, or do a flyover of a river or creek, a drone can get the job done.

Drones as an alternative to satellite images

Satellite images distort after being zoomed to a certain level. Drones can capture images up to 400 feet high, and the current 4K cameras can capture multiple images that can be made into 2-D orthomosaic maps or 3-D models. With the use of drones, appraisers can evaluate homes during different stages of construction, calculate topography, and identify other aspects of land.

Getting started using drones in your appraisal business

A question many appraisers have is, “Do you need permission to from the FAA to fly a drone?” For commercial purposes, yes. You will need an Airman Certificate with a small unmanned aircraft system rating. You will need to pass the FAA Unmanned Aeronautical General Knowledge Test and then complete a training class to obtain the certificate. Once you pass the exam and finish the training class, you will be issued a temporary certificate, until you pass a Transportation Security Administration screening. There is no expiration on the certificate, but you will have to pass a recurrent aeronautical knowledge test every two years.

If you decide to hire someone to take your drone footage, be sure they have their Section 333 Exemption.

There is ample opportunity to improve the efficiency and accuracy of appraisals using drones, which is why many appraisers have already started utilizing the technology. It will be interesting to see how drone technology improves and offers new opportunities for the real estate industry in the future.

Want to learn more about how you can use real estate technology to grow your business? Click here for additional resources—including webinars, CE courses, blog posts, and podcast episodes.

For more info on issues that can impact your appraisal work,browse continuing education courses at

Each year more than 100,000 professionals advance their career with McKissock Learning.

Hear what they have to say.

See More Reviews