Real-estate listing photos have always accentuated the positive, but lately, computer-generated imagery of the sort Hollywood uses has now become so cheap and prolific that home sellers are having their agents digitally knock-down walls, remove clutter, and even add natural light. Brown lawn? Insert new sod. Vacant rental unit? Add digital staging with the click of a mouse. Tacky artwork? Hang a Warhol. It’s never been easier to doctor photos. And with Instagram filters and programs like Photoshop, where are the lines of ethics when something’s been made into something it isn’t?
According to a report out this week from the discount brokerage website Redfin, photos are—once again—more important than ever: Nearly every home search begins online these days, and deals are sometimes struck prior to in-person showings. 20% of 1,463 home buyers surveyed by Redfin in 2018 said they had made offers on houses they later visited. In 2017, Redfin says as many as 35% of those surveyed made offers sight-unseen.