With the pressure of a relatively stagnant property market, some selling agents will do just about anything to sell their client’s properties and technology advancements have made it harder for unsuspecting buyers. It is often standard practice to edit photos and dress up drab properties. If it’s just making the grass greener or the sky brighter this may not have a huge impact on the buyer’s decision but it’s when houses are made to look freshly painted, telephone poles magically disappear and rooms are made to look 3 times their actual size… is when buying from Agent’s photos starts to get complicated.
Real Estate Agents justify it by saying they’re acting in the best interest of the vendor but with fake views outside, touched-up floorboards and extra trees in the garden, questions need to be raised.
Another common problem with real estate photography is the use of extreme wide-angle lenses that make rooms appear larger than in reality. I know I’ve been stumped before by looking online at a property, thinking that the lounge room will be a decent size for a couch, TV console etc but when I have arrived for an open house, found that the room isn’t big enough to swing a cat!
A trick for buyers to spot things like that is to look for solid, straight objects and see how they look in the photo. You can often tell if a photo has been distorted when you see a rectangular rug look like a diamond.
There is a penalty for making false or misleading representations under the Australian Consumer Law of up to $1.1 million for corporations and $220 000 for individuals, as well as penalties for making false representations under the Queensland Property Agents and Motor Dealers Act 2000, a maximum of $297,000 for corporations and $59,400 for individuals; but some agents stretch the truth a bit too far and not enough buyers make complaints.
Hardly anyone complains anymore because they’ve come to expect some level of puffery from selling agents.
The only way buyers can protect themselves is by visiting a property before buying it or get a trusted friend, family member or Buyers Agent involved to act in your best interest. This is particularly important if you are buying from overseas or interstate. And try to avoid buying solely from an Agent’s photos!