“Photo Enhancement Reaching New Heights”
Professional photos of a listing can certainly inspire buyers to want to see the home. Recently in a Maclean’s article by Rosemary Counter dated May 15, 2019, the following headline appeared:
“Wide-angle lenses, Photoshop and virtual staging: Real estate photo enhancement is reaching new heights as desperate sellers look to sell imperfect homes.”
Digital vs. Physical, On Location Staging
Google “virtual staging” and online ads appear. These companies can offer online furniture placement and the promise to astonish buyers with enhancements to exteriors and interiors. They claim their work will drive sales and improve your sale price because staged homes sell faster and for more money. They, however, make no distinction between digitally altered rooms and on location physical staging which can improve a home’s desirability on viewing.
From the Real Estate Council of Ontario
The Maclean’s article quotes the Registrar of Ontario’s Real Estate and Brokers Act: “Realtors, of course, can’t falsify information in their advertisements, but this gets a whole lot more complicated in photos and even harder in videos,” says RECO’s registrar Joseph Richer.”Deceptive or misleading advertising is prohibited by Ontario’s Real Estate and Business Brokers Act from 2002, a lifetime ago in both cameras and computers. The government is currently renovating the legislation, and we want to make certain it reflects new technologies.”
One Local Photographer’s Opinion
We spoke to one photographer that takes pictures for a number of Niagara listings. Outside of enhanced lighting, some wide-angle work or removing something minor, like an oil stain in the driveway, this company does not digitally alter pictures to the point that they alter the real look of the home. They believe that their reputation would be tarnished with such practices.
Some Reader Comments from torontorealtyblog.com
“I want to see what I am actually buying.”
“...my gut feeling would be to expect a discount on the actual house because it’s not “good enough” in its present state.”
“Virtual staging is adding insult to injury.”
“...virtual staging is misleading and misleading your customer is a no-no.”
A Deceptive Practice
Minor edits and enhancements should, for the most part, be acceptable. But changing physical characteristics to the point of being deceptive in representing the property is pretzel logic to the extreme.
Enticing a buyer to view an altered property can only lead to disappointment, resentment for being mislead, or provoke one to complain to the licensing authority. If sellers and possibly their REALTORS® resort to these practices because they are desperate to sell the home, they might become more desperate once buyers show up and abruptly walk out.