When a real estate advertisement came under fire this year for Photoshopping a “Chornobyl” green lawn out the front of an Adelaide property, the internet shared a bemused laugh.
But according to real estate photographer Christine*, the mistake wasn’t Photoshopping the grass. It was the failure to suspend the viewers’ disbelief.
Before and after images of lounge room which has been photoshopped
Photographers add fires in fireplaces to make a room feel ‘warn and inviting’, but if the fireplace no longer functions it could be seen as misrepresentation.
“We definitely add grass,” she says. “But it won’t look fake.”
Christine has been in the business in Sydney for 13 years, and knows all the tactics in the book to make a listing stand out. When she first started, professionals were regularly Photoshopping out telegraph poles and stop signs.
Now, regulations have tightened, but thereare still ways to get around them, and they vary across each state and territory.
According to NSW Fair Trading, agents must ensure photographs in real estate advertising convey “accurate information” for the buyer.
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An image can mislead if it “leads to a reasonable belief in the existence of a state of affairs that does not in fact exist” or by “acts of silence or omission” – like including a picture of a beach view where there is none.
The maximum penalty for breaking Australian Consumer Law is $1.1m for a company. But in the past 12 months, no fines for misleading or false real estate photography have been issued.
Real Estate Institute of Australia president Hayden Groves says there are “effective rules” under Australian Consumer Law preventing agents from using images that distorted reality to such an extent that it “goes beyond mere sales puffery”.
“For example, a ‘mock’ fire burning in a fireplace that no longer functions, is probably misrepresentation whereas, if the fireplace has the capacity to have a fire, then that’s probably OK,”he says.
Probably misrepresentation? Christine says photographers “always” add …….