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.
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
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.
About Jhai Mitchell
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 TheHomePage.com.au, 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.