As we await the California Supreme Court’s decision in the Property Reserve case (see related posts here and here), many government agencies are faced with the question of what they will do if the justices deem the current right of entry procedures unconstitutional.  Perhaps technology can come to the rescue.

Many in the real estate industry are embracing technology and drones in particular.  The article “Here’s How Drones Will Impact Real Estate Listings” discusses how drone photography will play a significant role in marketing, appraisals and inspections.  Perhaps not surprisingly, appraisers in particular are among the first to incorporate drones in their work.  According to the Forsythe Appraisals article “A View from the Clouds: The Appraisal Industry and Drones:”

Drones provide unique perspectives on properties, giving appraisers more information to use for a credible appraisal report.

So can drones or other devices eliminate the need for rights of entry?  Perhaps. It is easy to see how drone photography can assist with visual inspections, but what about the environment below the surface?   The scientists are on it.  NASA and JPL are working on an airborne water quality sensor, which can be used to monitor water clarity, turbidity and chlorophyll concentrations, all without taking physical samples.  And there are several studies that explore how remote sensing can be used on land, including urban areas.  The work appears to be largely academic so far, but no doubt practical applications will not be too far away.  (For those who’d like to “geek out” on this stuff, you can read these academic papers from the US National Library of Medicine, the University of Nottingham, and Denmark.)  Even if this type of sensing does not eliminate the need for physical inspections, there is certainly the potential for less invasive testing, which was a huge issue in Property Reserve.