Should Real Estate Agents Photoshop Listing Photos?

by hookedonhouses on October 5, 2010

Photoshopped flowers

Sure, I’ve heard about real estate agents doctoring listing photos a little to remove things like telephone poles and cell phone towers in the background. But this is the first time I’ve seen a house where objects were noticeably Photoshopped in.

Apparently this was an empty house and the agent thought it could use a little staging. And why bother schlepping real furniture and books and flowers in when you can do it all with the click of a mouse?

Photoshopped living room-rug

It didn’t take long for me to realize something was not right here.

red dining room

The lemonade in this kitchen is clearly a computerized addition, but what about the rest of it? It made me wonder if the cabinets really look like that. Or has the kitchen been gutted and this is just an idea of what you could do with it? I started questioning everything in the house.

Photoshopped kitchen-lemonade

Nachos, anyone?

Photoshopped kitchen-nachos

I can appreciate that the agent is trying to make this house look its best. Believe me, after all the fuzzy photos I see in the real estate listings of filthy open toilets and overflowing trash cans, I’m always glad to see someone make an effort.

But it’s a little distracting. I searched every photo, trying to spot all the fake-outs. And it made me question what else wasn’t “real” in the listing.

Do you think there’s anything wrong with Photoshopping real estate photos? Or is it just a clever way to dress rooms up a little without having to hire a professional home stager? (Thanks to Janet for the link!)

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Janell Beals October 5, 2010 at 7:48 am

Strange, I’d have to think about this for awhile…hum: No. Just go do a little staging or leave it as is! Seeing this would have me wondering what else is being “doctored up”!
.-= Janell Beals´s last blog ..Get out! One of my DIY Tutorials Featured On TheNateShowcom! =-.

Chrissa October 5, 2010 at 7:49 am

Incredibly tacky, unattractive and …not smart.
.-= Chrissa´s last blog ..Accidental wins and fails =-.

Derek October 5, 2010 at 7:52 am

I guess the real question is, should Realtor with bad photoshopping skills doctor photos. That would be no. There are ways to do it that work…. These are what not to do when PS furniture into a picture. Painful to look at.
.-= Derek´s last blog ..Spot the Prop =-.

hookedonhouses October 5, 2010 at 7:58 am

Good point, Derek! Maybe it wouldn’t bother me if the additions looked more natural. Although, if they did fool me that well, then what would I think when I stepped foot in the house and things were different? Has anyone ever had that happen to them? -Julia

Janet @ I Drink at Restaurants October 5, 2010 at 7:55 am

I’ve spotted more from the same realtor. In one, they had “painted” all the walls.
.-= Janet @ I Drink at Restaurants´s last blog ..The following conversation actually took place =-.

The Twice Remembered Cottage October 5, 2010 at 8:00 am

It’s just too weird for me. I think the only way {for me} that this would be acceptable is if potential buyers were told up front that the home was digitally staged, and even better would be if the original photos were provided to peruse as well. Now, with this series of photos, buyers would know that something was up because it is so obviously photoshopped, but still…I think a disclosure should be made. :) Great post!
.-= The Twice Remembered Cottage´s last blog ..Basic Farmhouse – Cottage Style Trim and Beadboard Tutorial =-.

Stacy@RedDoorHome October 5, 2010 at 8:05 am

My problem with these pictures is that they look so fake. It is hard to tell if this is even a real house. I guess when I see something like this the first question that comes to mind is “what are they trying to hide?” If all these things were added, what was taken away?
.-= Stacy@RedDoorHome´s last blog ..Cozy Up for Fall Giveaway! =-.

Kristin@Bouelvard Interior Design October 5, 2010 at 8:10 am

I get that the realtor is trying to “stage” the house. I know it is incredibly hard for people to visualize possiblities. However, the doctored staging is hideous. I can’t imagine what it really looks like. I don’t think the concept is bad, just be honest and show a Before and potential “After”. I think it is shady otherwise.

Beachbrights October 5, 2010 at 8:21 am

This is deceptive and unethical. Shame on this Realtor. Can you say “bait and switch?”

etta October 5, 2010 at 8:21 am

mmMMM… I don’t like this at all… everything is fake… it’s ugly!

melissa October 5, 2010 at 8:24 am

I think it looks odd but many catalogs do it. I’ve noticed in several Pottery Barn kids catalogs that trophies seem to float on window sills. Books in the bookcases and window treatments are nice, kind of highlights the features. But get rid of the pitchers and fruit, those items are just obscuring the tops of surfaces. The furniture is too unsettling as well.

Dean October 5, 2010 at 8:33 am

As “Beachbrights” said, this is deceptive and unethical. Furthermore, they all end up looking like computer generated interior design projects from a Design 101 class. I had no idea this was being done. Adding is bad enough, but subtracting? I would have second thoughts about working with anyone who thinks this is OK.

middlesister October 5, 2010 at 8:33 am

Am I going to be out of a job? I would not have staged…ur photoshopped that house with that furniture. It was bad. Good comedy!

Josanne October 5, 2010 at 8:34 am

It almost seems dishonest for some reason…..I think if they would have listed the rooms as they really are, and then TOLD you they were adding a few pieces of furniture to give you an idea of how big the room was in a totally separate picture, or something like that, it would be more acceptable. That is a bit strange. It doesn’t really give you the urge to jump right on visiting the house. And as for that house-it doesn’t need any help-the house is beautiful without all the photoshopped stuff!
.-= Josanne´s last blog ..YELLOW-And Yet- Another Announcement! =-.

Laura October 5, 2010 at 8:37 am

We live in an age of where we question the authenticity of a lot of photo’s… to me, it looks pretty dumb, but you never know, it could get someone to look at a house that has potential, that would have otherwise been missed… The MLS pictures of the place we eventually brought, could have done with some serious photoshopping… but hey we went to view it anyway… Lx
.-= Laura´s last blog ..The beauty in simplicity =-.

Becky @ Farmgirl Paints October 5, 2010 at 8:39 am

You’re right. I started wondering if anything was real. That’s just weird!
.-= Becky @ Farmgirl Paints´s last blog ..Pedestal =-.

Jocelyn October 5, 2010 at 8:46 am

I would not like to see this if I were still looking for a house. We looked for a house for a year, and truthfully some of the pictures that realtors take are terrible. I would never be drawn to visit the house when the best pictures are fuzzy or wide angled. It’s very disappointing to see something on the web, then go to the house and see the truth! How hard that would be for people moving from out of state and need to make a quick move. And let’s not even talk about the scam for a new homeowners warranty!
.-= Jocelyn´s last blog ..A touch of fall =-.

black eyed susans kitchen October 5, 2010 at 8:53 am

Hilarious! I am especially fond of the floating couch and chair in the living room. It gave the listing an other worldly kind of feeling. Reminds me of those kids magazines that we used to use in the Drs offices to keep ourselves occupied. Circle what is wrong with this picture.
.-= black eyed susans kitchen´s last blog ..FEATURE ME PINK! =-.

Sharon @Elizabeth & Co. October 5, 2010 at 8:56 am

A definite no to photoshopping! You want an honest and accurate picture of the house you are considering. You can use your imagination for how you would update it later.

Mike October 5, 2010 at 8:57 am

I think if I were receiving those pictures as a potential buyer, I would probably just laugh at the absurdity. It does seem a bit dishonest, but for me the in-person viewing is much more important.

Here’s the essential question in my mind: does the photo-shopping make a buyer more likely or less likely to want to see a house, or is there no effect? In this particular case, the photo-shopping is so bad hat it’s obvious and I would look past it to the real parts of the house to decide whether or not to schedule a walk-through. But if the agent “painted” the walls and I couldn’t tell, and then walked into the house, I’d probably walk right out. If the photo-shopping is too good, it’s really dishonest.

Amy October 5, 2010 at 9:04 am

Can’t you tell all the glasses and plates are photoshopped in as well? that is crazy! LOL

Janet October 5, 2010 at 9:12 am

Wow, that is awful. It looks horrible. My first thought would be, lazy RE agent. ;)

It’s mis-representation and baaaaad practice. The MLS boards will be all over this, and if they are not, the litigious RE attorneys will be.
.-= Janet´s last blog ..Want vs Need =-.

Pat October 5, 2010 at 9:14 am

It looks really silly, and makes me wonder just how gullible people really are?
I think a more honest approach would be to show this listing with the rooms empty, then maybe as a sales tool, offer to show the same room photoshopped for what could possibly happen.
.-= Pat´s last blog ..Off and Hobbling =-.

LuxuriousLife October 5, 2010 at 9:24 am

I think photoshopping has no place in realestate listings!! For one, isn’t there usually a disclosure agreement where you have state the condition of the property to be sold, so taking telephone poles and such out of photos seems like false advertising. As far as staging thru photoshop, I think that is more confusing to a potential buyer; it can also “cheapen” the look of the space with the out of place items, which may keep a potential buyer away.
.-= LuxuriousLife´s last blog ..Starting Monday Off With A Room I Love =-.

Kelly, Arte Styling October 5, 2010 at 9:31 am

Wow. That’s pretty funny.
I wonder, what is the point of this? The house looks so funky with the Photoshopping. Wouldn’t it have been better to just leave it empty? Does the agent really think that potential homeowners lack the imagination to see, umm… food in the kitchen????
And I’m with you, Julia. I can’t tell if ANYTHING is real. That peninsula in the kitchen is so weird I can’t stop staring at it.
.-= Kelly, Arte Styling´s last blog ..Designers Challenge 101 with AB Home Interiors =-.

Liz October 5, 2010 at 9:36 am

This is fraud! Fraud is illegal.

hip hip gin gin October 5, 2010 at 9:58 am

I really don’t think it is okay to photoshop or in any other way alter the images in a real estate listing. When we were house hunting we showed up to one of our appointments only to realize that the spacious photos we were looking at were taken with a wide angle fish eye lens, and the actual condo was so small that the two of us and our realtor couldn’t maneuver around in it without bumping into one another. There is really no point to the deception, once people see it in real life the jig is up and the realtor just ends up looking like a fool.
.-= hip hip gin gin´s last blog ..Fireplace Pumpkins =-.

Amy Button October 5, 2010 at 9:58 am

That’s hilarious! Kudos to the agent though for caring. My husband and I look at listings all the time and say “what were they thinking?!?”. I saw a listing once where the grass was *really* green. It stood out because we were in a drought with temps around 107. Everybody’s grass was fried. Upon closer inspection, the grass looked like it had been spray painted. It wasn’t photo shopped, it was some other photo thing where you can use a spray paint feature. Again, at least the Realtor tried. And I laughed. I guess it’s a win-win :D
.-= Amy Button´s last blog ..Two Posts In One Week =-.

Nicole M. October 5, 2010 at 10:10 am

Well, I always have my nachos on display like the above photo in my kitchen. What? You don’t? The photoshop skills with this realtor are lacking to say the least. Like I tell my clients when they shop for a wedding photographer ask to see an example of a before photo and after of people where the wedding photographer had to open a pair of eyes, or remove the drunk uncles hand on the bridesmaids rump. That way they can see the skill level of the photographers photoshop skills. Brides and grooms never realize how important this aspect is. In terms of seeing a realtors skills……….I wouldn’t have thought of that one. But, I would have done research to see their previous listings and run from this one!

Kathleen October 5, 2010 at 10:22 am

Ethical questions aside, the horrible photoshopping is so distracting that the purpose of the photos is lost, these are supposed provide buyers with a visual representation of the house and entice them to come see it in person, not make them laugh.

Vicki @ In The Sandbox Comic Strip October 5, 2010 at 10:25 am

Now that’s funny!

I don’t think real estate agents should photo shop pictures. It’s way too distracting.
.-= Vicki @ In The Sandbox Comic Strip´s last blog ..True Love =-.

desiree October 5, 2010 at 10:39 am

It’s wrong, misleading and unethical. And to remove something that is obviously un-moveable (ie. fire hydrant, telephone poles) is illegal.
.-= desiree´s last blog ..Urban Color – SF Clement Street Art Shop =-.

Lisa October 5, 2010 at 10:44 am

I don’t have a problem with photoshop staging with things that would be removed from the home anyways. Changing or “enhancing” anything that would come with the house I would not do. Like changing the room color or adding trim work or tile. But if you can’t do the photoshop additions well, then don’t do it. I find them very distracting.

the Blah Blah Blahger October 5, 2010 at 11:11 am

THose are SO creepy! The images are just close enough to where you don’t notice the photoshopped items, but if you look at them long enough they seem to pop out. No me gusta!!!
.-= the Blah Blah Blahger´s last blog ..YOUR KIDS NEED ZOODIES! =-.

Lindsay@Tell'er All About It October 5, 2010 at 11:18 am

Maybe it’s just me, but this seriously looks terrible! You’re right, Julia – it’s REALLY distracting – and it’s hard to tell if that kitchen is real or not….? Hrmm…
.-= Lindsay@Tell’er All About It´s last blog ..Is it too early for Halloween! =-.

Kathy October 5, 2010 at 11:38 am

Totally no. For me, after doing these kind of changes, you can only call it “UNreal estate”. Hiring a good photographer instead of graphic designer is always better and there is no suprise after stepping inside the real house.

Katie @ Katie Beth Interiors October 5, 2010 at 11:50 am

I think it is distracting and dishonest. I mean what if you get inside and it is nothing like what those pictures show. I would rather see nothing, than a whole lot of something that isn’t even there.
.-= Katie @ Katie Beth Interiors´s last blog ..See You September… =-.

Emily October 5, 2010 at 11:56 am

Love your new glamor photo:)

hookedonhouses October 5, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Well, I am just so glamorous. Ha. You should’ve seen it before I cropped the rest of the family members out of it. Couldn’t find a decent one of just myself! One day maybe I’ll hire a real photographer and do it right. (Or maybe not.) -Julia :)

Kelly October 5, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Instead of spending the time Photoshopping their listings, they should just take the time to take better pictures of the rooms. I think these photos are taking staging a home way to far. I don’t think a bowl of nachos on the counter will make me buy the house any faster.
.-= Kelly´s last blog ..1900 Victorian- Summerville- SC =-.

Marie October 5, 2010 at 12:11 pm

I don’t know about a fake photoshop editing. I’d rather see photos of the property in its current state than this. Real estate agents should give buyers a bit of trust as buyers are not dumb. They can spot a misrepresentation I’m sure. Love those huge bay windows though…that’s real I hope!
.-= Marie´s last blog ..Bee Tea Set as Sweet as Honey =-.

Katherine October 5, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Ugh, that looks horrible! It does make everything look fake! I wouldn’t want to ever work with a realtor that would do that. Just seems to be misleading a potential buyer.

I’ve seen too many photos where realtors have obviously stretched out the image to make the room seem bigger. So annoying!
.-= Katherine´s last blog ..Another Start To The Week =-.

Rosa October 5, 2010 at 12:45 pm

I think it is wrong. I wouldn’t know what was actually there or what is an illusion. I have enough vision to see potential in homes that I don’t need a listing to fake things for me.

Kim October 5, 2010 at 12:50 pm

I don’t mind realtors taking photos and changing the lighting of the actual photos, but making them look totally different, that they are misleading, isn’t ok.

The neighbors next door to us, are selling their house and had their pictures totally docked up. The pictures look so nice that they make the house seem like it is in great shape. My family went and looked at it, and the house needs so much work, it’s a fixer upper. I’m sure people went, or will go to the openhouse disappointed.

Ivy k October 5, 2010 at 12:54 pm

The problem with this is the scale, proportions and perspective of everything that was photoshopped into the rooms is wrong. How can you judge a room based on that? Oh look a big couch could fit in there. Or is it small? It’s very deceiving even though it’s obviously fake. It hurts a listing more than helps I would imagine in any case. As a graphic designer, this makes me really ill.

Centsational Girl October 5, 2010 at 1:09 pm

I agree, those noticeably fake add ons make you wonder what else the homeowner is hiding! They should just take pics of empty rooms, or hire a stager. Great post Julia!

DeBovine October 5, 2010 at 1:14 pm

I’d put this in the category of ‘trying too hard.’ In my MLS, any tampering with the actual photograph is a big NO-NO. You can use ‘puffery’ in your written description, like ‘stunning’ or ‘the best’ in reference to a property, but removal of high tension wires, etc. from the photo is forbidden. That’s deception. A good agent knows all about disclosure laws!

Carmen @ Life with Sprinkles on Top October 5, 2010 at 1:16 pm

This is just weird to me. I think if the agent wanted to doctor up the photos, she/he should have shown before and after pictures. You know using the doctored photos as potential. The lemonade and nachos kind of creep me out. haha.
.-= Carmen @ Life with Sprinkles on Top´s last blog ..Halloween Wreath and a Spooky Tree =-.

Lisa October 5, 2010 at 1:49 pm

I absolutely think its the worst idea in the world. It makes you look at the tacky fake furniture more than the empty space..

Coastal NEst
.-= Lisa´s last blog ..A lil summer turned fall project =-.

Jamie October 5, 2010 at 2:12 pm

weird. I had to laugh at the chips and dip on the counter though!
.-= Jamie´s last blog ..Apples =-.

Amanda @ Serenity Now October 5, 2010 at 2:20 pm

BIG No-No. It looks obviously fake, and it seems like falso advertising to me, especially when it comes to window treatments, etc.
.-= Amanda @ Serenity Now´s last blog ..Before and After Quickie Makeover =-.

Christie October 5, 2010 at 2:22 pm

If a realtor photo shops too many changes, wall color etc …. the Buyers might feel that the sellers realtor is a shady, untrust worthy liar. Who wants to do business with some one like that ?

Dee October 5, 2010 at 2:51 pm

For the amount they are asking for that home, they should be staging it, not photoshopping.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy October 5, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Only if it helps and its seamless ;)
.-= Juju at Tales of Whimsy´s last blog ..News Flash- Book Clutches =-.

yvonne October 5, 2010 at 3:09 pm

I can’t believe this, my gosh I am starting to trust no one or even what I see anymore. Where is this world going? I do not think I would trust this company about anything.

Jeannine @ Small & Chic October 5, 2010 at 3:18 pm

This is my absolute, #1 pet peeve! I hate, hate, hate photoshopped real estate listings. To make a point, I emailed an agent behind and ad and asked for un-doctored pictures. She said that was on the MLS was all she had. Riiight.

I think this is essential false advertising. I can’t believe it’s allowed.
.-= Jeannine @ Small & Chic´s last blog ..Only one day left to enter the giveaway! =-.

Emily@remodelingthislife October 5, 2010 at 4:01 pm

this is so funny and also creepy crazy.

Nancy Hood October 5, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Oh no they didn’t! Yikes, looks totally creepy!
.-= Nancy Hood´s last blog ..As the Deer =-.

Courtney @ nesting instincts October 5, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Ummm, yeah…just list it empty for heaven’s sake! It has me wondering if that cool paneling or those granite countertops were just photo-shopped in as well!

Btw I’ve just listed a giveaway to celebrate my little friend’ s completed treatment for leukemia!
.-= Courtney @ nesting instincts´s last blog more chemo – lets celebrate with a giveaway!!! =-.

Drawn to the Sea October 5, 2010 at 5:29 pm

Hi there, Julia! Doing a little blog surfing & realized I hadn’t dropped by in awhile. For what it’s worth, I expect to see Donald & Goofy step into the room.

Julia in Texas :-)
.-= Drawn to the Sea´s last blog ..Full Neon Moon =-.

Christine October 5, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Uh, not a fan! I would be very disappointed if I made an appointment to see a home only to find out that the cabinets or other features where PS’ed in! That would be a real deal breaker. If a realtor feels the need to stage a home, don’t scrimp on fake features, hire a home stager or do it yourself!

Dawn October 5, 2010 at 5:37 pm

I don’t mind it that much because it shows what can be done. I bet the house is lovely anyway.

I am crazy about the kitchen and the cabinets.

Bre October 5, 2010 at 8:20 pm

This looks like a Sims house. I’m not a fan of their attempts to digitally “stage” the house. I’m with you, it only made me question everything in the pictures. While I appreciate the extra mind puzzle to help me stave off Alzheimer’s, I don’t think it’s entirely on the up or up or helpful for prospective buyers. It just looks downright weird-call me old fashioned, I prefer real staging with real furniture. Cool post Julia!
.-= Bre´s last blog ..Ghoulishly Gorgeous =-.

Nathan October 5, 2010 at 9:02 pm

I personally think it calls the entire house’s integrity into question. The only thing I would tell the agent is to learn how to use the program better – everything that is added in is obvious. If agents knew how to use the program properly, it would be hard (if not impossible) to tell which items were there and which weren’t when the photo was taken. Until s/he can do this, I would hold off and just show an empty house.

Lisa October 5, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Uh yes, I definitely have a problem with this! I don’t care if they are editing out a phone pole or an unsightly bush, its being dishonest. There are so many crappy real estate agents out there, I’m really not surprised that this happens but I definitely think it is misleading potential buyers.
.-= Lisa´s last blog ..My Momiform =-.

Handy Man, Crafty Woman October 5, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Ugh, that is SO weird! I hate that! I think it’s misleading. It just looks so FAKE!
.-= Handy Man, Crafty Woman´s last blog ..Fall Table Setting =-.

Robin October 5, 2010 at 10:56 pm

I give them an A for effort and imagination but a D for execution. It would have been a C but they left the stencils in the kitchen!
.-= Robin´s last blog ..Teach your children well =-.

Our Nifty Notebook October 5, 2010 at 11:30 pm

LOL, I might buy the house just for the nachos! ROTF!

I think these pics are hilarious. It’s unfair to photoshop items, because they probably wouldn’t really fit in the house any way.
.-= Our Nifty Notebook´s last blog ..Life As We Know It- Movie Review =-.

Nancy@marcusdesign October 6, 2010 at 12:46 am

My goodness, I have never seen this done before. It looks awful. I don’t this photos should be photoshopped, I think people should tidy there houses and take decent pictures!! Well, at least they’re funny to look at! :)
.-= Nancy@marcusdesign´s last blog ..q &amp a with massucco warner miller =-.

Heidi@recklessbliss October 6, 2010 at 1:08 am

I don’t think false advertising is ever really “right” to do. If the agent is willing to go to such lengths just to make a sale it would make me feel uneasy about anything else they told me about the home. It rings dirty and untrue to me. Especially like what you said about taking out telephone poles in the background, they’re still going to be there when you show up to see the home! It just feels so used car salesman slimy.

Great post Julia!
.-= Heidi@recklessbliss´s last blog ..-Snapshot Of The Week- =-.

funcolors October 6, 2010 at 1:14 am

There are several online business that offer virtual staging service – I would not assume the agent did it – as bad as that one is, there’s a chance someone was paid for those virtuals.

Virtual staging is marketed as a cheaper, faster solution to real-life staging. I’m just not sure what happens when potential buyers show up to actually look at the property in person. ???

“Today’s technology has allowed us to take the photos you send us and warm up the home by putting almost any type of furniture in the photo so that it appears as if the furniture is actually in the home! Now you don’t have to be frustrated with trying to sell an unappealing vacant house. Virtual staging is a low-cost, easy and effective way to add value to any vacant listing.”
.-= funcolors´s last blog ..Social Media for Paint &amp Color Professionals II =-.

hookedonhouses October 6, 2010 at 6:15 am

Very interesting. Thanks! -Julia

Marie @ Sally Lee by the Sea October 6, 2010 at 1:55 am

I don’t think this is a good idea at all! Enhancing the brightness & colors in the photographs is one thing but this is just over the top and would be terribly disappointing to someone walking into this home and realizing it doesn’t look anything like the photograph.

Maria October 6, 2010 at 1:56 am

Not only does the whole thing look really bad and fake — notice the kitchen faucet is missing in Kit photo #1? I wonder if the bay window/cabinets are real either. And I bet they spent a bunch of time and think it looks good all out of scale and everything.

If someone photoshopped something in or out of a listing I was interested in- I wouldn’t do business with them. Period. I agree with others, it’s fraud.

However, it was a hoot to look at!

hookedonhouses October 6, 2010 at 6:20 am

You’re right! The faucet is missing. I hadn’t even noticed that. How bizarre! -Julia

Suzann October 6, 2010 at 6:34 am

Okay, one word. CREEPY. LOL
.-= Suzann´s last blog ..Found a Keeper =-.

Beth October 6, 2010 at 9:02 am

If the house itself hasn’t been altered, this doesn’t strike me as any more unethical than staging a home. That’s fake too. (Is it unethical to have a bowl of fake fruit on your table? I don’t think so, though I have been annoyed by plates of fake cookies.) That said, it just seems incredibly stupid and way hilarious. Apparently the photoshopper didn’t have to do any of those “perspective drawings” I was forced to do over and over again in elementary and junior high.

karen ho fatt@ fire pit reviews October 6, 2010 at 9:47 am

I am not against doctoring as in putting furniture inside to dress it up. After all, it is cheaper than actually buying or renting the furniture. But if you doctor the photo, make sure that you put the elements in proportion and in perspective, otherwise it will be so obviously distracting. Most people want to see a house dressed up anyway as they cannot visualize what a house will look like otherwise.
.-= karen ho fatt@ fire pit reviews´s last blog ..Cocoon Fires Standing Fireplace Set in Black – Sleek and Modern Styling =-.

Lesley @ TheDesignFile October 6, 2010 at 11:01 am

I think only the most basic photo manipulation is ethical. Some brightening, darkening or whatever to make the overall photo look like a better photo. But nothing that changes the actual house. No removing telephone poles or cell towers. No adding stuff to rooms. No wiping out badly placed outlets. That’s all deceiving and bad news.
.-= Lesley @ TheDesignFile´s last blog ..Etsy pick- Fun- eco-friendly pillows &amp more =-.

Theresa October 6, 2010 at 4:55 pm

I may be aging myself, but it looks like Colorforms. Do you remember the peel and stick game?

Laura Castellucci October 6, 2010 at 7:12 pm

It’s a great idea but if only the sellers would listen to the agents prior to placing the home on the market , this would not be necessary. It would be wiser for the seller to spend a little cash for paint and “simple” staging, declutter, cleaning, etc. than spend for such a service, but it’s a great idea whoever thought of it…thank u.

Pamela @Atmosphere ID October 6, 2010 at 7:56 pm

That just looks silly! If you’re going to photoshop at least do it well. I don’t have a problem if agents correct imperfections in a photo but cutting and pasting stuff in (and doing it awfully) is just plain odd. The house looks like Dr. Suess’s house now.
.-= Pamela @Atmosphere ID´s last blog ..Traditional Homes Loves Ceilings Too! =-.

Jennifer October 6, 2010 at 9:04 pm

I want a true representation of what I am going to see should I choose to look at the house. I totally disagree with PS.
.-= Jennifer´s last blog ..Tea Party =-.

Maria October 7, 2010 at 12:11 am

Oh — another Where’s Waldo! ….the nachos are sitting on the only granite counter in the kitchen, which would not match-up with the rest of the counter shown in the previous photo! And the backsplash behind the nachos only goes part way across. I now think the entire kitchen (which already looked fake) is seriously in question.

Maria October 7, 2010 at 12:21 am

Ok I take it back — I see in the listing it does only have granite on this one section. However the whole thing is very weird.

Lauren October 7, 2010 at 9:55 am

Why stop at nachos?! Where’s the pig roasting on the spit?
.-= Lauren´s last blog ..Day 40- life around here =-.

Rory October 7, 2010 at 10:08 am

I am most curious if they photoshopped in the wall stencils and if not, why didn’t they photoshop them out????
.-= Rory´s last blog ..Ill be baaack =-.

hookedonhouses October 7, 2010 at 10:13 am

I’m wondering the same thing!

Janan Bergen October 7, 2010 at 11:10 am

I think this could very easily be considered false advertising. I would not be in favor of doing this and would never do this with one of my listings. I think it is deceptive.
.-= Janan Bergen´s last blog ..Nice 3BD- 2 1-2 Bath in Elkton =-.

KBell October 7, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Thanks for your comments and feedback about virtual staging and we are glad to see a lot of talk about the topic.
My husband and I are realtors and traditional stagers in Atlanta, Georgia and we consider ourselves to be the pioneers of virtual staging. Our patent-pending virtual staging service is very realistic and life like and we do not alter any of the vacant photographs our cients email us. We stay true to the realtor code of ethics rules and advise our clients to always disclose that our services have been used in all marketing materials. We do not change paint colors or remove appliances or even add drapery for that matter. We simply add furnishings and decor only to empty rooms so that we create more recognizable rooms and attractive “staged” online photos where it is a fact that 90% of home buyers are looking for their next home.

We created Virtual staging simply as a way to drive buyer traffic to the listing and provide agents in Atlanta and nationwide with a more economical marketing tool for those clients who cannot afford the costs of traditional staging. By all means we encourage all of our clients here in Atlanta to use our traditional staging services which is preferred but nationwide there are lots of agents who do not have access to stagers or they too are on tight marketing budgets these days and find that virtual staging really does work. Read all about us and view some of our newscasts on our home and press page and do check out our gallery to see how virtual staging is another amazing marketing tool to get vacant homes sold! Thanks for all the buzz! Sincerely, KRISZTINA BELL, Virtually Staging Properties, Inc, ATLANTA, GA

Bryan October 8, 2010 at 9:48 am

These are just terrible photos… This isn’t virtual staging, virtual staging as become widely popular because of It seems that many people are now trying to create knock offs and have no idea what they are doing. Take a look at the gallery on and you’ll see the difference.

And the discussion about it being “unethical” has been beaten to death already on other blogs…..

“The ability to manipulate people and photoshop photos has been around for a very long time, virtual staging brings nothing knew to that area. Virtual staging is just like traditional home staging, the furniture is not sold with the house, it is just there to help potential buyers visualize a room. It is expected that the buyer will visit the property before purchasing and see exactly what they are buying. With the help of virtual staging they will already have a clear understanding of the home’s potential. We also offer physical prints of the virtually staged photos, brochures and digital slide shows to display in the home for extra reinforcement of the home’s potential. All photos will also come with a small “” watermark to indicate the photo was virtually staged and offer a place for buyers to find out what virtual staging is simply by visiting Prospective buyers are already embracing this idea and are grateful for any extra help they can get that will help them make a better decision.”
.-= Bryan´s last blog ..Virtual Staging Overview by ABC News =-.

Judy October 8, 2010 at 10:29 am

Notice that pitcher and bowl of fruit moving around with the photo angles? These are pretty bad. I’m not a fan of virtual staging except for brand new model homes while they are being built. That gives buyers an idea of what the finished product will look like. But I would be really disappointed to see a virtually staged home and then get there and find it empty or gutted, in need of repair or whatever. Even if it’s been disclosed, people have the “virtually staged” picture in their head – it’s still a let down when you see it empty.

Amy October 10, 2010 at 9:13 am

How bizarre! It makes it look like a home in The Sims or something. I can’t imagine this would impress potential buyers who see the listing online.
.-= Amy´s last blog ..Super Hyper Micro Link- A time capsule pre-war Parisian apartment =-.

A Vintage Girl October 10, 2010 at 3:51 pm

This should never be done! Whatever happened to truth in advertising?! Ok.. that’s a rhetorical question, I know it’s long gone. If I actually fell for this trick and showed up to see this house I would have ripped into the agent for this. I think it’s unethical! The agent should have requested that the seller spruce it up if it was in unsellable condition. Horrible!
.-= A Vintage Girl´s last blog ..Gardiners East Hampton Home for Sale =-.

Jeannine @ Small and Chic October 11, 2010 at 6:29 am

Just had to point out to Bryan and the other folks from the virtual staging company that this issue might have been covered on real estate blogs, but it hasn’t hit the design blog circuit.

I don’t really care about whether this is in line with a profession code of ethics. My personal code of ethics say that you should represent a product for sale in a realistic way. The example above (I’m not going to look at the company portfolio…the subject of the post is the hilariously bad MLS listing) is bad, bad, bad.
.-= Jeannine @ Small and Chic´s last blog ..Preservation Piedmont House Tour starts TODAY! =-.

mary carroll October 13, 2010 at 9:22 am

Photoshopping in furniture just looks tacky, but I’ve often felt that real estate photos could certainly benefit from more artful staging and the experience of a talented lifestyle photographer, which certainly includes creative Photoshop work.
.-= mary carroll´s last blog ..Autumn in the Kitchen =-.

Sketch42 October 15, 2010 at 5:43 pm

Oh god. I actually think it made the house look worse. I cant see the bones of the house, because all I see is fake stuff!
.-= Sketch42´s last blog ..A Painting Realized =-.

Lisa T. October 16, 2010 at 7:37 pm

This agent didn’t do themselves any favors. The stuff they put in is so out of scale, it makes the rooms look smaller. Really bad idea for any listing in my opinion.

Kenny Tate October 17, 2010 at 10:54 am

Great post! I am all for staging a home for it’s best first impression but I can’t imagine “shopping” the photos. It is almost like the Glamour Shot Agent photo on your card. If you show up in person and the house is not as it appeared it really makes you want to find out what else is being covered up!
.-= Kenny Tate´s last blog ..Investment Property of the Week for October 15- 2010 =-.

Terry Kraemer December 29, 2010 at 9:37 am

Realtors should be extremely careful when photoshoping pictures. It is a lot easier to take good pictures that do not have to be photoshoped in the first place. If realtors would effectively express upon the home owner the importance of decluttering the home before you take pictures it will make their job a lot easier. If by some chance something gets overlooked while taking pictures, for example a set of keys on the kitchen countertop distracts the otherwise beautiful picture, then by all means take it out. Don’t remove things that are permanant for example a electric pole. That is deceiving. Dont change the color of a room. If the home owner paints then by all means take new pictures. Realtors have a responsibility to be honest. They are in the business of selling houses; not manipulate the truth.

Charles May 16, 2011 at 9:47 am

Terry makes a great point, about touching up photos. Realtors cannot remove items in the photo that are permanent. Personally I believe adding furniture with photoshop could also fall in an area that would get an agent in trouble. Buyers use the furniture in the picture to estimate the true scale of the room, so adding a large sofa that probably wouldn’t fit in the room in real life is deceptive. I agree a good Realtor will tell their seller the home is no longer a place they live, but an asset we are trying to sell, so with that in mind we need to make sure it shows like a model home.

Cyle September 1, 2011 at 2:57 pm

That looks terrible! Put some real furniture in there!

Nathan September 2, 2011 at 10:10 pm

I laughed the first time I saw this post and I laughed again this time. I just don’t understand why one would do this. Not only does it look downright stupid, it makes the agent look like a goof too!

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