How Real Estate Agents Legally Bend The Law When Photoshopping Photos And Why They Do It!

How prop­erty agents leg­ally bend the rules when it comes to photography.

I have been read­ing up on for­ums about how home buy­ers are out­raged when it comes to real estate agents Pho­toshop­ping pho­tos: adding “views” out the win­dows, blue sky, lush green lawns, and as I read on they are even more infuri­ated by agents that have removed power lines and added a view that can­not be seen by the property.

real estate agent or photographer photo shopped out a power line

I star­ted to get angry after read­ing these com­ments and boy I would be peeved if I arrived at an open home after see­ing the ‘shopped pho­tos, expect­ing my dream home and find­ing a dump!

They should be named and shamed and repor­ted. This would help me get rid of my bad com­pet­i­tion! I found that home buy­ers were even annoyed at Pho­toshopped fur­niture, clocks, LCD TVs and paint­ings, which sparked my curi­os­ity as to whether it is illegal or not.

First things first, I need to tell you why pro­fes­sional pho­to­graphy is so vital and why there is an incent­ive to Pho­toshop properties.

Think about it. When you scroll through the end­less list of homes online, what grabs your atten­tion? Maybe it’s the price (if they sup­ply it)….. but what makes you decide to inquire fur­ther? Do the pho­tos help you make this decision? You will be sur­prised how influ­en­tial they are.

Pho­tos have become such a major influ­ence that some home buy­ers base their decision of whether or not to view the prop­erty entirely on the pho­tos they see. It’s got­ten to such a point that real estate agents hold more weight to online views than how many people come to the home! In fact they are now call­ing them online inspections.

Why” I hear you ask because it gives them great analytics/data to base their edu­cated decisions on, such as;

  • If the advert­ised price or head­line is right, 
  • Whether they need 2 agents at the open, 
  • How strong the mar­ket is, 
  • Helps them gauge how much they can get for the house,
  • Lets them know if the need to change the mar­ket­ing or pho­tos etc

Example test on an auc­tion property

Example of twilight photography of a seven hills home

Example of twi­light photography

Example of day time photography of a seven hills home

Example of day time photography

I will give you an example of an auc­tion prop­erty we tested this on;

This house was track­ing at about 1,000 views in one week with about 10 call-ins.

Then we changed the photo the next week (noth­ing else) to a twi­light shot. Guess what? Where views nor­mally drop off (because it is con­sidered a stale list­ing after 1 week), they picked up by approx­im­ately 50% to 1,500 views and 15 call-ins in a week when inquir­ies tra­di­tion­ally drops off.

Top Snap gen­eral man­ager Helen Clarke car­ried out a recent sur­vey last year and found;

  • 99% of real estate agents believe pho­tos are the fore­most essen­tial tool for mar­ket­ing property.
  • 89% of real estate agents said great pho­tos attract addi­tional buyers.
  • 80% said they increase buyer inquiries.
  • 68% said they enhanced the amount of clicks on prop­erty list­ings and half said they helped secure a higher price for the house.


Loc­a­tion may be the most vital factor for buy­ers when decid­ing their offer; how­ever it’s the pho­tos that help entice them to the open home.

Buy­ers will not pur­chase the house on the basis of the pho­tos, and they shouldn’t as you need to exam­ine the house itself, how­ever a poor set of pho­tos will guar­an­tee your prop­erty being the last on the list when they are hunt­ing for the right house.

Sellers need to think about pho­tos in the con­text of the sale; they are in com­pet­i­tion with the other sellers in their local area. Pho­tos are a crit­ical part of mak­ing their home stand out from all the other prop­er­ties. In that light, it’s well worth invest­ing in great pro­fes­sional photography.

Top Snap gen­eral man­ager Helen Clarke said ”you want pho­tos which will ‘wow’ a buyer within three seconds of them look­ing,” she said, “So I believe cre­at­ing a pho­to­graph that evokes feel­ings this is incred­ibly vital.”

You need to fol­low the law when it comes to pho­tos in real estate advertising

One real estate agent Pho­toshopped everything from land­scape, ima­gin­ary trees to dis­guise neigh­bour­ing units and the orange sun­set would look more like trop­ical Bali. He even had the guts to remove power lines to lure in more home buy­ers. It almost cost this agent $220,000 worth of fines.

Sec­tion 51 of the Prop­erty, Stock and Busi­ness Agents Act 2002 states clearly that “[chan­ging the] appear­ance of a prop­erty by digit­ally remov­ing or adding fea­tures [is unac­cept­able], but adjust­ing the light­ing slightly to com­pensate for poor light­ing on an over­cast day may be acceptable.”

Check out part two of the art­icle to dis­cover how us agents leg­ally bend the law on enhan­cing prop­erty pho­tos.

If you are mar­ket­ing your prop­erty or look­ing to sell your prop­erty online, we do pro­fes­sional in-house pho­to­graphy. Please feel free to call us for a no-obligation chat on (02) 9896 2333.


Jhai is an award win­ning Inter­net Mar­ket­ing Real Estate Agent for Eld­ers Toongab­bie and Kings Langley. After run­ning his own inter­net mar­ket­ing busi­ness he has now set his own sites for the real estate industry. He observed that 90% of real estate agents did not know how to mar­ket them­selves online. Jhai is now fixed on one goal. To teach real estate agents that they can mar­ket online so much bet­ter than they cur­rently are.

Since then he has been con­sist­ently quoted in the Sydney Morn­ing Her­ald and Real Estate Busi­ness online. He is a reg­u­lar guest blog­ger on, shar­ing his expert­ise of mar­ket­ing aspects for the Real Estate Industry. His biggest pas­sions are his wife, mar­tial arts, dogs and most of all property.

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