At What Point Would You Consider Real Estate Listing Photos Deceptive?

By
Home Stager with Sharon Tara Transformations

At what point do real estate listing photos become considered deceiving?

I am currently looking for a home, and the difference between what I see in listing photos and what I see in person is beyond frustrating.

For this post, I'm not talking about the interior of the home. 

Interior photos have their own issues....

Rooms may appear larger in the photos. Overall condition may appear better in photos than it actually is. Obviously you won't know the truth, and you won't know if it's right for you, until you actually step foot inside. That goes without saying in real estate. 

 

I'm talking about photos of the exterior. Photos that are deliberately framed and/or angled to make a home appear different than it actually is.


For example: 

Shooting a house tightly cropped so as to hide the fact that it's practically on top of the house next to it.

Shooting all the exterior shots in such a way that there is no evidence of the eyesore building, lot, landfill, etc. directly behind it. 

Shooting the house to appear like it's set way back from the street, when in reality it's just six feet from the curb. (I've seen this one far too many times now.)

 

In this market, homes are moving fast, and it's important to schedule a showing asap when you see a listing you like.

I was doing just that, calling my agent to schedule showings, until the third time we decided to cancel a showing after doing a drive by.

 

 

I have learned that I can no longer call my agent to schedule a showing immediately upon seeing a new listing I like, without first taking a drive.  More times than not we have found we no longer want a showing after actually riding by the property.

 

Some of you may be thinking "this is rich...a home stager talking about mls photos being deceptive."

The irony is not lost on me. I know there are people who believe the art of staging in of itself is deceiving...smoke and mirrors to make buyers fall in love regardless of the lack of closet space and lack of home maintenance. 

I stand by the power and benefit of preparing and presenting your house to show at it's very best in order to attract buyers.

I stand by the power and benefit of professional photos to increase both visual and emotional appeal of a property.

 

What I don't appreciate is arriving at a house and immediately feeling disappointed and deceived because it has been falsely represented in photos.

 

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Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Ginger Harper 01/16/2018 07:16 AM
Topic:
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Rainmaker
2,341,549
Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®
Perry Wellington Realty, Adam Conrad, Broker - Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate

Sharon, I agree that most houses do not look like the photos in the MLS.  I have buyers from California and after days of looking at houses and being disappointed,  they said they would do drive bys before actually calling me to see a house.  They do drive bys and maybe one out of five listings they want to see. We haven't found the house yet.  The last one was very nice but the rooms were too small.  

Jan 16, 2018 08:23 PM #117
Rainmaker
884,368
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Definitely a lot of feedback here!  Deceptive photos are so frustrating for both professionals and home buyers and sellers.  I saw a fish bowl set of photos yesterday and cringed! 

Jan 16, 2018 09:26 PM #118
Rainmaker
1,967,983
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES  It's unfortunate and hopefully will get better.

Claude Labbe  I appreciate you stopping by and joining in. Thank you!

Mary Jo Quay  I like the dating analogy and your process to get the job done and remain warm and dry while doing it!

Rebecca Gaujot  I'm not from California, but other than that your buyers sound just like me. We are living a very similar experience right now. We also found a very nice one...went back a second time because we were considering making an offer....rooms were just too small and we couldn't do it. 

I hope they find what they are looking for soon. I'm sure they appreciate your patience with them.

Jan Green  I'm actually surprised at how many comments this post has generated. It was a bit overwhelming replying to them all! I bet those fish bowl pics were lovely! LOL

 

Jan 17, 2018 06:44 AM #119
Rainer
140,203
Theresa Akin
CORPUS CHRISTI REALTY GROUP - Corpus Christi, TX

Congrats on the Feature!!The hubs and I have been looking for a couple months. I get to do the drive bys and give him feedback. One of our must haves is plenty of parking for 3 vehicles, one being a large F-150 with an 8 foot bed and brushguard (18 inches out). Found one that looked okay till I drove by. The drive a very short (not much longer than the truck) was actually cropped in the photos to make it look longer and wider. I called the agent on it. A tree was also cropped out of the photo. My smaller Jeep would not fit in the garage. I measured. It barely fit in the drive and that can give you an estimate how big the front yard is not. Me being who I am gave the agent our feedback.  She called me to ask when I saw it since it didn't show on the Supra. How I got inside. I didn't go in but could see by the listings there would be no room for my car since the "new' furnace was place right where the front passenger side of the car shouls be. You could tell that by the photos in the listing.

Jan 17, 2018 01:26 PM #120
Rainmaker
1,967,983
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Theresa Akin  Good for you for calling the agent. Feedback is a good thing and I'm sure others felt as you did without letting the agent know. It's not easy finding "the one". I wish you much luck in your hunt!

Jan 17, 2018 01:45 PM #121
Rainmaker
632,758
Kathleen Luiten
Resort and Second-Home Specialist - Princeville, HI
Kauai Luxury Ocean Home Sales

In most markets I think the problem is just as you describe, Sharon. Here on Kauai it's a little different since some agents will publish a listing, especially low-priced or distressed properties, with just a single photo or with photos that aren't updated after improvements are made.  I have seen photos that make a home look far larger than it is and others that make a fairly nice home look terrible. As an agent I've learned to go on the caravans and see as many properties as I can prior to showing them to a client.

Jan 17, 2018 06:33 PM #122
Ambassador
2,709,336
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®,CRS,
RE/MAX Professionals. - Tacoma, WA
Tacoma Washington Agent/Broker & Market Authority!

Oh Sharon Tara, I wish I had $5 every time somebody comments "it didn't look that way in the picture!" 

Jan 17, 2018 09:03 PM #123
Rainmaker
795,526
David Popoff
DMK Real Estate - Darien, CT
Realtor®,SRS, Green ~ Fairfield County, Ct

For 25 years I have been recommending buyers do a drive by and check out the neighborhood bofore scheduling a walk through, even today with the google map you can get a road side view.

Jan 18, 2018 04:49 AM #124
Rainmaker
1,967,983
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Kathleen Luiten  I've seen all those scenerios. Seeing in person is the only true way to know if a home is right for you. I really appreciate those agents that have good quality photos and don't push the "reality" boundary.

Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®,CRS,  I am sure all other agents would make that same wish! 

David Popoff  Very good advice and probably saves all involved a lot of time!

Jan 18, 2018 01:33 PM #125
Rainmaker
90,355
Goran Utvic
606 Homes LLC | Chicagoland Brokers Inc, Chicago IL 60656 - Chicago, IL
We Buy & Sell Chicago Houses Fast

I recently had a showing where the neighboring house was real close just like in your post! Sneaky photographers lol

Jan 19, 2018 01:50 PM #126
Rainmaker
1,967,983
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Goran Utvic  I'm sure there are buyers who don't really mind, but for me it's annoying!

Jan 20, 2018 09:24 AM #127
Rainmaker
90,355
Goran Utvic
606 Homes LLC | Chicagoland Brokers Inc, Chicago IL 60656 - Chicago, IL
We Buy & Sell Chicago Houses Fast

Yes I have clients that want to drive by houses first which saves myself and them a lot of time...I also try and make it a point to do a Google Street View but can't always remember to do it :-)

Jan 20, 2018 09:32 AM #128
Rainmaker
264,399
Dan Derito
Success! Real Estate - Brockton, MA

You make a great point Sharon. Good agents don't deceive buyers. It only comes back to bite them.

Jan 22, 2018 05:09 PM #129
Rainmaker
1,967,983
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Goran Utvic  it's a really good idea to drive by if possible. It can save so much time.

Dan Derito  Unfortunately there are more than enough less than professional agents to go around.

Jan 23, 2018 11:42 AM #130
Ambassador
1,693,920
Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices

It is not always an intention to deceive. You use wide angle lenses so that you can show smaller spaces, but now they start looking bigger. Photography is also an art form and some distortions are artistic form. I remember my son going and taking photos for a listing, and the Seller looking at the photos and questioning each one of them

Jan 29, 2018 04:04 PM #131
Rainmaker
1,967,983
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL  I understand it's not always intentional. Many a bad mls pic is taken with good intentions. The wide angle lens should be used with professional experience and some restraint. Unfortunately too many amateurs out there using them.

Jan 30, 2018 08:53 AM #132
Ambassador
1,693,920
Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices

Sharon Tara - no matter what you do, some confusion will happen. When you want to show the room, wide angle is indispensable, but at the same time it makes rooms look bigger.

I once had a Canadian client, who fell in love with a small 2 bdr condo on the river. He asked me to take photos, and I did. But I told him that he should understand that this is a small condo, only 1,000 sf, and I kept telling him that, and he kept saying that it is fine.

Put an offer, went through the whole process, he came, looked, said it was too small and did not buy. How could I make him understand that 1,000 sf is just 1,000 sf?

Jan 30, 2018 12:44 PM #133
Rainmaker
1,967,983
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL  Oh boy...that is frustrating! It's so important to see the home in person. I can't imagine making an offer without having been there.

Jan 30, 2018 06:23 PM #134
Rainer
404,889
Dörte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Sharon,

Staging for me is suggesting what sorts of furniture will fit in a particular room. Most people cannot imagine much in an empty room. Using a wide lens or virtual furniture are not my thing, because clients complain about that.

Feb 13, 2018 09:55 PM #135
Rainmaker
1,967,983
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Dörte Engel Empty rooms look smaller too! You are right about buyers not being able to imagine an empty room. They are incapable of imagining a better furniture placement plan in occupied homes too.

Feb 15, 2018 02:28 PM #136
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Sharon Tara

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