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Expectation vs Reality: When the Listing Photos Lie

Real Estate Agent with Better Living Real Estate, LLC 9152684

Expectation vs Reality: When the Listing Photos Lie

We’ve all been there. You’re browsing through online listings, looking for your dream home, and you come across one that seems too good to be true. The photos are stunning, the description is enticing, and the price is reasonable. You can already imagine yourself living there, hosting parties, relaxing in the backyard, and enjoying the view. You contact your agent and schedule a viewing as soon as possible.

But when you arrive at the property, you’re greeted by a very different scene. The house looks nothing like the photos on the listing. The paint is peeling, the windows are cracked, the lawn is overgrown, and the view is blocked by a giant billboard. You feel cheated, disappointed, and angry. How could they do this to you? How could they lie so blatantly?

Well, the truth is, listing photos are not always accurate representations of reality. Sometimes, they are edited, filtered, cropped, or staged to make the property look more appealing than it really is. Sometimes, they are outdated, taken years ago when the house was in better condition. And sometimes, they are just plain misleading, showing only the best angles and hiding the flaws.

So, how can you avoid falling for these tricks and wasting your time and money on a house that doesn’t match your expectations? Here are some tips to help you spot and avoid listing photo lies:

  • Do your research. Before you get too excited about a listing, do some background checks on the property and the seller. Look for reviews, ratings, complaints, or lawsuits. Check the property history, tax records, and neighborhood data. Compare the listing with other similar properties in the area. If something seems off, ask questions and demand answers.
  • Look for red flags. Some listing photos are easy to spot as fakes. Look for signs of excessive editing, such as unnatural colors, blurry edges, distorted proportions, or mismatched shadows. Look for inconsistencies, such as different furniture, appliances, or fixtures in different photos. Look for missing details, such as windows, doors, outlets, or switches. And look for suspicious angles, such as wide-angle shots, close-ups, or aerial views that hide the surroundings.
  • Request more photos. If the listing only has a few photos, or none at all, that’s a major red flag. Ask the seller or the agent to provide more photos of the property, preferably taken recently and from different perspectives. If they refuse or make excuses, that’s a sign that they have something to hide.
  • Use Google Street View. One of the best tools to verify the accuracy of listing photos is Google Street View. You can use it to see how the property looks from the street, and compare it with the photos on the listing. You can also use it to check the neighborhood, the traffic, the noise, and the amenities. Of course, Google Street View is not always up to date, so it may not reflect the current condition of the property, but it can still give you a good idea of what to expect.
  • See it in person. The ultimate way to confirm the reality of a listing is to see it in person. But don’t just show up unannounced. Make an appointment with your agent, and bring a checklist of things to look for and questions to ask. Be prepared to inspect every inch of the house, inside and out, and take notes and photos of everything. Don’t be afraid to point out the discrepancies between the listing and the reality, and ask for explanations. And don’t let the seller or the agent pressure you into making a decision on the spot. Take your time, and trust your gut.

Buying a home is a big decision, and you deserve to know the truth about the property you’re interested in. Don’t let listing photos fool you into settling for less than you deserve. Follow these tips, and you’ll be able to spot and avoid listing photo lies, and find the home that matches your expectations and your reality.


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Lew Corcoran
Licensed Massachusetts Real Estate Agent
Accredited Home Staging Professional
Professional Real Estate Photographer
FAA Licensed Drone Pilot

Director, National Board of Directors,
Real Estate Staging Association (RESA)

Better Living Real Estate, LLC
15 Wall Street, #9157
Foxborough, MA 02035
O: (888) 877-8300
D: (508) 258-9658

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Comments (3)

Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Pasadena And Southern California 818.516.4393

Hello Lew - sometimes there can be deception.  On other occasions, it may be unrealistic expectations.  Either way, in-person visits can provide additional insight.  Possibilities await.  

Feb 22, 2024 08:47 AM
Lew Corcoran

I agree that listing photos can be misleading, but I also think that realistic photos can help attract more guests who appreciate what your place has to offer.

Feb 22, 2024 11:31 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

This is good advice to share with prospective home buyers.

I hope you are having a productive month.

Feb 22, 2024 09:56 AM
Lew Corcoran

Thank you, Roy. I’m glad you found the blog post helpful. I’m having a busy month, but also a rewarding one.

Feb 22, 2024 11:33 AM
Ed Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

Nothing is as good as seeing it in person. Listing photos are there to set the hook, but a street view is a different story.

Feb 22, 2024 11:01 AM
Lew Corcoran

I see your point, Ed, but I also believe that realistic listing photos can help showcase the best features of your place and attract guests who appreciate its true value.

Feb 22, 2024 11:34 AM