The Subtle (and Sometimes Hilarious) Deception of Home Listings
Over the past few weeks, my wife and I have once again been lurking on Zillow. However, unlike past phases, we’ve also been following this up with some real tours of the homes we like enough to go check out. This experience has highlighted some of the ways that photos in home listings can be, for lack of a better term, B.S.
Some of these deceptions are actually pretty obvious and are ones used in other types of photography. For example, anyone who’s ever taken a photo of a window knows that there’s no way you can see the view through it so clearly. Yet, this is something that home listings and hotels alike do.
Another common trick we’ve seen is the clever choice of lens. It’s kind of amazing how much longer a room can look when you photograph it with a wider lens — until, of course, you look a little closer at two different angles and realize the distortion. For me, the trick is to look at the thickness of the walls.
In some cases the adjustments made to these images just get hilarious. After we toured one home, we noticed that one photo had been touched up to remove the crawl space access door in the floor. This one was particularly head-scratching as you think you’d want to highlight the fact that the home has this extra area… but what do I know?
Finally, we come to the most hilarious example — and the core inspiration for this article. Last night, I was looking at a listing and discovered that they seemingly included both the Photoshopped and original versions of a backyard shot. The real one shows a dirt area, while the enhanced version (which is clearly the same photo judging by the car in the background) adds some grass over the same part. In their slight defense, they do note that the city has been doing some work in the area, so perhaps this was just meant to suggest that the yard normally sees growth there and will again. Still, it’s a weird choice.
While I understand why those selling homes would want to make them look as enticing as possible, there’s a difference between retouching photos to adjust light or color and straight-up Photoshopping them to depict something that’s not true. Do they think that people won’t notice when they see the homes in person for themselves?
All in all, I suppose this is just another reminder never to buy a property sight unseen. So, be on the lookout for these B.S. photos and avoid those listings that cross the line.