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Misleading Real Estate Property Images; Companies Can be Fined Up To $ 1.1 Million

By Chirag Shivalker | March 21, 2017

Real estate photography editing has been in existence for over a decade now, but it seems Australia is the first country to draw that demarcation line between what is right and what is wrong, while incorporating real estate image editing into property marketing. The impact of image editing and retouching makes it all the more important for real estate companies, real estate agencies, property photographers, property photo studios, and property listing sites to have a clear understanding of the legal boundaries in this regards.

As the one involved with real estate property, are considering real estate photo editing outsourcing or real estate photo retouching outsourcing; ensure that the property images on your list are not misleading. Penalties for misleading the consumers have increased, and real estate companies are likely to be fined up to $1.1 million and individual agents can be fined up to $220,000, says ACCC.

There is a belief that the responsibility is of the property buyers and not the property dealers, to inspect the property in person for them; but that does not seem to be the case here. Let’s take this further to understand the legal restrictions for property photography retouching and real estate image editing, implemented by ACCC to protect real estate buyers.

What are the legal restrictions for property or real estate image editing?

  • Built in materials such as power lines, neighboring buildings, vents, air-conditioning units and alike; are amongst the list of objects that cannot be removed from property images to show the property to be more spacious, while editing or retouching them. It is considered to be highly misleading to buyers and is considered to be against the rules. The responsibility is solely of the real estate agent or the company to correctly display the physical features of a property.
  • Same kind of restrictions are imposed for enhancement of real estate property images; where adding garden beds to concreted areas, and repainting old walls to make them look new, are amongst common image retouching practices.
  • The next thing on the list is trick angles and property photo editing that is used to create larger-than-life views from the home/property. They have mandated tagging “location shot” for every single image that is not taken on the property, so as to save the buyers from any kind of confusion.

What are the fair practices for real estate property image editing?

This may sound like warning people against using image editing for their real estate property pictures, however; it is not so. Enlisted are some of the fair and practical reasons for putting image editing at task for the benefit of the buyers and can improve property marketing campaigns, by generating valid interest for a property.

1. Weather

Property photographers and property photo studios try their level best to photograph real estate properties on a beautiful sunny day. Property listing sites have a motto to upload property images with a golden sunset; on their marketing sites. But the weather does not always play fair. Most common are the overcast days, and rearranging a rainy shoot always – is not possible. Professional image editors are equipped with multiple sky profiles, replacing the background whenever weather plays foul in flattering a property.

2. Retouching enhancements for that unobstructed view

Not all the properties are located in quiet and well managed streets, where there are no or very few cars parked in front of the property. It is almost impossible to conduct a photoshoot in a situation where someone’s car is not blocking a part of the property in any angle possible. Or the most prominent one is that the agent’s sign board is not covering some necessary details. These are some of the objects that can be removed from property photos by image editing & enhancements to remove clutter and obstructive objectives to gain that unobstructed view.

Unhelpful tenants, God save the property owners and real estate agencies. These tenants leave the property as it is with all that clutter and mess around, though they are aware of the photo shoot. Uncovering space by removing the mess, while leaving in fixtures and fittings with help of professional photo editing is a better idea.

Rooms or spaces that are empty, or are not appealing due to existing furniture; it can be replaced to give the property that real modern and amazing look with help of image editing professionals.

Talking especially of commercial warehouses, new tenants will always look out for the potential of their business. Commercial warehouse spaces can be completely emptied, and features such as power points, vents, etc. that are hidden by old or existing tenant’s clutter also can be included & highlighted by retouching the photos, though by including a disclaimer in some of the cases.

3. Hovering auction dates and renovations

There have been instances when it is just the auction date and there is renovation work that needs attention on the may be the garden or the entire property. It is nearly impossible to arrange for property images that fast. In such scenarios, assistance from professional image editing and retouching experts; where they use building and landscaping plans to fill up the gaps to create that look and feel of finished renovations ahead of the schedule. It might require property agent to put up a disclaimer that features some features are digitally included to represent the final work.

4. Neglected properties

Property photographers do come across properties that have stayed neglected for quite some time before the photo shoot; with overgrown lawns, swimming pool left to fend itself and so on so forth. In such cases the lawns can be mowed and pools can be cleaned by expert retouching; to ensure the property looks as it would on the day of the inspection or the auction.

5. Real estate photo editing and retouching

If used appropriately, real estate image retouching does not merely become a part of the photography package; instead also works as a safety net for unexpected deadlines. There are a lot more reasons why high quality property photo retouching is worth the time and money spent. Speak to a property photography team to learn more about what all can be done to enhance property images while complying with legal standards.

About the author: Chirag Shivalker heads the content team at Hi-Tech BPO. With words at will & his finger on the pulse of global outsourcing industry, Chirag has been writing about outsourcing and related issues.

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