I just purchased a new version of Photoshop and was viewing some of the instructional videos of the new features that the software has and it made me realize that we can no longer rely upon what we see in a photo to be real. I guess that to some extent I’ve known this all along as I’ve edited photos for years, removing flaws, changing color tones and increasing or decreasing contrast. However, to view the new features and see them actually being used to process a photo made it more real to me.
There is some artistic license when editing a photo but to make drastic changes really isn’t ethical if the photographer is going to represent it as a photo. If, however, the photographer is going to represent it as photographic art I’m okay with whatever creative liberties they use. But, you may ask, what does any of this have to do with real estate? Yes, in some way all of my blogs get to the subject of real estate and this blog is no exception. Photos are very important in the marketing of real estate and I’ve witness some real creative photos attached to marketing pieces. So the question becomes, are highly edited photos acceptable in real estate marketing?
I believe they should not be allowed. Real estate investors from all over the world use the Internet to research available inventories of sales listings. When they find a property that holds their interest they will contact the Listing Broker for more information. The prospective buyer is relying upon the information such as P & L, rent rolls, demographics and photos to base their decision as to whether they would like to submit an offer or pass on the property. If the prospective buyer decides that based upon the information the property is a good investment they will present an offer. Once received, reviewed and accepted by the seller, the buyer will proceed with due diligence to determine the factualness of the information provided. This can be a pretty expensive process involving the hiring of a forensic engineer to inspect the property, environmental studies and review of tenant estoppel certificates. CPAs might be hired to run calculations to see how the property might perform over the investment period. When all this research is completed the buyer will travel to the property and inspect it themselves. What happens when the buyer arrives on the property and discovers that the Listing Broker has edited out the objectionable property adjacent to the property the buyer is considering? The buyer is angry as it is a deal breaker for them. The contract falls through and the property is back on the market. Based upon this scenario shouldn’t the Listing Broker be liable to the costs incurred by the prospective broker? I believe so, unless there was full disclosure by the Listing Broker that the photo had been artistically edited.
I would suggest that a buyer who is looking at a property outside their general area enlist the aid of a broker in the area to represent them in the purchase of the property rather than dealing directly with the Listing Broker. I know there is a misconception out there that going directly to the Listing Broker will result in lower costs to the buyer because there aren’t two brokers to be paid. It just isn’t true. The Listing Broker will be sharing their commission with the buyer’s broker so there are no additional costs incurred by the seller. The advantage of the buyer having their own broker is that they will have someone looking out for their interests in the real estate transaction.
CEO, Employing Broker
Katchen Company, founded in 1962, is an integrated real estate company with its corporate headquarters in Lakewood, Colorado. The company offers real estate development, redevelopment, property management, brokerage, consulting services, construction oversight and maintenance services to individual and institutional real estate investors throughout the greater Denver metropolitan area in Denver with satellite offices in Chicago, Las Vegas and Miami market areas.