RISMedia's Real Estate Magazine

JUN 2019

Real Estate magazine is the industry's leading source for real estate news and information since 1980. Published monthly by RISMedia, Real Estate magazine offers timely and relevant real estate news to the industry's top brokers and agents.

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60 June 2019 RISMedia's REAL ESTATE MARKETING OR MISLEADING? The home-buying process now starts online, which makes it critical to present your listing in the most ap - pealing way possible. From creative word play in your property descrip - tion to engaging imagery in your on- line tour, the intent should be to at- tract attention to the home, never to misguide offers. Digital manipulation is ubiquitous in online marketing, and recent advances in photo editing technology have created challenges in defining what is presenting a prop - erty in a positive light—and what is outright misleading. EXAMPLES OF ETHICAL PHOTO EDITING Photo editing can be a budget-friend - ly solution to physically changing a listing; however, the intended use should be to inspire ideas, not to conceal issues. One of the most common uses for photo editing in real estate is virtual staging. Staged homes sell 88 percent faster and for 20 per - cent more money. Physically placing staging furniture in the home isn't only an inconvenience to the seller, but it's extremely expensive for the agent. Home stagers charge around $300 - $600 for an initial design consultation, and $500 - $600 per month per room. That adds up to about $2,000 - $2,400 a month for a 2,000-square-foot home. The cost of virtually staging a listing is nomi - nal in comparison. PlanOmatic only charges $99 an image to place the furniture of your choosing in a room digitally. Professional photo editing can go beyond simple furniture improve - ments. A couple clicks can inspire a different use of space by turning an office into a bedroom. Editing can remove eyesores like owner-occu - pied clutter or unsightly holiday dec- orations. The most popular uses of the technology are "twilight editing," which creates a moody twilight ef - fect, "blue sky editing," which turns overcast skies into blue skies, and "green grass editing," which makes patchy grass appear fuller. These applications can't be con - sidered manipulative to buyers because they're simple cosmetic changes that don't affect the value of the home. EXAMPLES OF UNETHICAL PHOTO EDITING The power of Photoshop can eas - ily make simple design updates to flooring, fixtures or paint in a home. More advanced users can pull off a full "Property Brothers" remodel if requested. While these orders can have a huge impact on opening the minds of buyers, the use of heavy al - terations should be clearly disclosed to protect the consumer. Competition in the market has re - cently increased the number of sight- unseen offers. Redfin reported that somewhere between 20 and 35 per - cent of recent homebuyers said they made offers on houses they had never set foot inside. These offers would be understandably inflated if the images the buyer saw online had been heavily digitally altered—and could drastically change the course of the deal to favor the seller. HOW TO ETHICALLY USE DIGITALLY- ENHANCED PHOTOS IN YOUR MAR - KETING Without laws regulating the use, we remain in the Wild West of the digi - tal enhancement era. The onus lies with real estate professionals to act in the interest of their clients. A quick survey can help to guide your choices when using altered pho - tos in your marketing materials. Ask yourself these questions: 1. Is the edited item a permanent fixture? 2. Would the changes made in the image affect the value of the home? 3. Have you disclosed the image alterations? PlanOmatic provides virtual stag - ing services and custom Photoshop work that's clearly and deliberately disclosed. As a real estate market - ing company, we protect consumers by watermarking virtually staged and custom edited assets. "Only through responsible use of emerging tech - nologies will innovation continue to progress in real estate," says Kori Covrigaru, CEO of PlanOmatic. RE Lauren Maloney is the marketing manager at PlanOmatic. For more information, visit www.planomatic.com. The Ethical Use of Digitally- Improved Photos in Real Estate Marketing Commentary by Lauren Maloney Photo Credit: PlanOmatic Photo Credit: PlanOmatic

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