Buyers outraged at photography trickery

Homebuyers are expressing outrage at agents that use excessive digital alterations of photographs to sell properties, according to a popular Australian internet and technology forum.

Fake views outside of windows, touched-up floorboards, blue skies and lush green lawns make up some of the complaints being raised on Whirlpool Forums.

In one post a person commented, “Worst offender had 'inserted' a view that does not exist from that particular window (just doubled-up a nice view from a different window), and re-carpeted the area by drawing in a brown rectangle, which did not exactly match up with the wall locations.”

Another person wrote, “I once inspected a place with a living room that was pictured with two nice couches/TV/coffee table setting but in reality was not large enough to swing a cat.”

Internet marketing business development manager at Elders Real Estate Toongabbie Jhai Mitchell said he empathised with such sentiments.

“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 'Photoshopped' photos, expecting my dream home and finding a dump," he said.

Mr Mitchell said agents were not aware of how people were talking about them online.

“These are very educated people doing all their research online and they are not afraid to express their opinion. What I find interesting is that there are agents out there that will blatantly remove power lines from images and not expect to get caught," he said.

“All someone has to do is pull up the property in Google Streetview - and that is exactly what people are doing because they do not trust Photoshopped photography.”

Sales executive at Richardson&Wrench Andrew Blaxland is a former professional photographer who once produced photos for real estate agencies.

“I used to retouch everything but I would retouch it in a natural way. But then it got to the point where the agents would be ringing me so many times saying, ‘Can you make the sky more blue and can you make the grass more green?’ I went with it because it’s what they wanted and it’s what I was paid to do," he admitted.

“It’s what a lot of people want, which is the sad thing. They want it gaudy and fake. I don’t think it will change because people desire to make their property look better than they actually are."

Mr Blaxland said a problem with real estate photography was the use of extreme wide-angle lenses that made rooms appear larger than they were in reality.

“The biggest disappointment is when someone expects a cavernous living room and it’s just four metres by three metres,” he said.

“They totally give people the wrong impression and I think it’s foolish to do that because you’re building the place up to be better than it is and people get there and they’re actually disappointed."

He said it was better for an agent to produce accurate photographs of a property that looked great, so that a buyer would be impressed.

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