When considering photo enhancement services it is important that a property is not falsely represented. With big penalties in place for misleading consumers, individual agents can be fined up to $220,000 and companies up to $1.1 million (Source: ACCC). It is crucial to understand what legal restrictions are in place when it comes to property photography retouching.
Whilst real estate photography editing is such common practice in Australia there is a right and wrong way to incorporate it into property marketing and it is important that real estate agents have an understanding of the legal boundaries.
The restrictions in place are to protect buyers and are put in place by the ACCC. Whilst many people believe the responsibility should be on the buyers to inspect the property in person for themselves, this is not the case.
The removal of built in material facts from a property image is misleading to buyers and against the rules. Power lines, neighbouring buildings, vents, air-conditioning units are examples of objects that cannot be removed from an image. The responsibility is on the agent to correctly display the physical features of a home.
The same restrictions are in place for enhancing features in real estate property images. This includes adding garden beds to concreted areas, and repainting old walls to look new again to name a couple.
Another restricted technique is for trick angles and property photo editing used to create exaggerated views from the home. Any images that are not taken on the property need to be captioned with ‘location shot’ to ensure no confusion with buyers.
What Is Fair In The World Of Property Photo Editing?
Whilst this may seem like an article warning people from using real estate photo retouching, there are many fair and practical reasons for it. Used in the right way property image retouching can improve property marketing campaigns and generate valid interest for a property.
Whilst everyone aims to photograph properties on a beautiful sunny day or with a golden sunset the weather doesn’t always play fair. Overcast days are common and sometimes rainy shoots cannot be rearranged. A professional team will be prepared with multiple sky profiles that can be replaced when the weather does not flatter a property.
Clutter And Obtrusive Objects
Some properties do not have the luxury of being located in a quiet street with little to no cars parked in front of the home. Sometimes it is unavoidable that during a shoot someone’s car is blocking part of the property in every angle possible or perhaps the agent sign board is covering some necessary details. These are examples of objects that can be removed by photo retouching enhancements to give an unobstructed view of a home.
Property Managers with unhelpful tenants will know very well how common it is for a property to be cluttered and messy before a photo shoot. Space can be uncovered by removing the mess and leaving in fixtures and fittings with professional photo editing.
Tenant’s items and clutter removed from image
If a room is bare or the current furniture does not enhance the appeal of the home, current furniture can be replaced to give it a more modern feel.
Room has been virtually furnished
Commercial warehouse spaces can be completely emptied for new tenants to see the potential for their business. It is important that any features hidden (power points, vents etc.) by the clutter are included in the retouched photo and in some cases it is necessary to include a disclaimer.
Tenant’s items and clutter removed from image
If the Auction date is looming and there is still work to be done on the property or garden, it is not too soon to arrange for property photographs. Professional editing teams can use building and landscaping plans to fill in the gaps and create the finished renovations ahead of schedule. In this case a disclaimer must be made that features some features are digitally included to represent the final work.
Final renovations portrayed through digital
Some properties can be neglected for some time before a photo shoot. The lawns could be over grown or patchy, the pool might have been left to fend for itself and has turned a new shade of green. Lawns can be mowed and pools can be cleaned with high quality retouching to ensure that a property is looking as it would on inspection day.
When used correctly real estate image retouching is an not only an essential part of the photography package, but it is also a safety net for the unexpected when deadlines are tight and photo shoots cannot be rearranged. There are many reasons why high quality property photo retouching is worth the investment. By first talking to your Property Photography team you will learn what can be done to enhance an image and comply with legal standards.
For more information on the rules and regulations of real estate photo editing visit the ACCC web page.