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When virtual home staging becomes deceptive

You can Photoshop anything these days
Posted at 12:09 PM, Aug 02, 2017

Thanks to Photoshop, you can make any photo look better.

That includes real estate photos. But when do pictures of a home cross the line, and become deceptive?

Digital staging helps buyers envision their next home

Buyers these days want move-in-ready homes, without brass fixtures and floral wallpaper that screams 1990.

One way realtors are making homes stand out are with "virtual staging" on their websites.
Photoshopped pictures show what the home could look like with new furniture, rugs and wall hangings. Realtors say it helps buyers envision their next home, once the shag carpeting and Elvis photos are removed.

These photos are perfectly legal, as long as it's disclosed upfront.

What to Avoid

But the National Association of Realtors warns sellers to steer clear of false advertising, such as

  • Airbrushing out power lines or water towers.
  • Photoshopping kitchen cabinets to look new when they are not.
  • Erasing highways or shopping centers in the back of the home.
  • Making it appear as though rooms or the exterior have been freshly painted, when they have not been painted in many years.

One listing showed a cute home for sale in Sydney, Australia. Only problem: It conveniently left out a giant water tower behind it.

The Realtors Association says virtual staging should be like a model home: Giving buyers ideas, but not lying about what's really there.

My advice? If you visit a home for sale and find it looks a lot different from the touched up photos, ask yourself what else the owners might be hiding.

Get a very good inspection so you don't waste your money.


“Don't Waste Your Money” is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. (“Scripps”).

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