In a world dominated by social media, there’s no doubt that we’ve become accustomed to seeing the world through Instagram filters. The truth is, filters and special lenses make everyone look better, so why not do it?
But when it comes to buying real estate, the rules change. We expect the pictures shown to be real and authentic — with no filters or manipulation of any kind. But is this really what’s happening — and is it really possible?
Much of the content out there is enhanced.
One of the parts I love the most about my job is the daily interaction with reputable real estate agents across New York City. And an interesting perspective I’ve gathered over the years is that the vast majority of real estate agents feel the need to resort to the manipulation or enhancement of the pictures they present in their listings. Whether it is brightening a photo or using a fish-eye lens to take it, why is it that real estate agents are feeling the need to enhance their listing images?
Authentic photos receive less attention.
I’m the CEO of a real estate listings platform in which agents are only able to advertise with verified unedited videos. When introducing our service to agents, we often have to highlight the fact that the listings uploaded to our platform will tend to receive fewer leads — but the ones that they do receive are from genuinely interested clients. The harsh truth is that manipulated listings will get consumers to pick up the phone and call the agents, which at the end of the day may be the agent’s ultimate goal, given that they are often working on commission.
The variety and ubiquity of cameras and lenses in the market makes it nearly impossible for any authority to adequately supervise the content being listed, resulting in a culture in which agents are practically forced to enhance listings if they want to play on the same level field as their competitors.
Ask for videos.
For people looking to buy or rent an apartment, their best option for real, true-to-life previews may be requesting unedited content from their preferred agent. Videos are much more difficult for the average person to manipulate than pictures and will showcase the space in a more authentic way. Let’s be honest: If an agent visited a property to take a picture, they could have just as easily taken a video. It’s 2020, and practically every smartphone out there can handle taking high-quality videos that will showcase the apartment that you’re interested in a much more genuine way.
Don’t be shy about asking your real estate agent for an uninterrupted video so that you may experience the tour of the space without any room for misinterpretation or manipulation.
Manage your expectations.
When an agent shares a video listing, it’s also essential for apartment hunters not to wrongfully compare the space shown on the video by measuring it with the same expectations as they weigh a photo-heavy listing that is likely enhanced or manipulated. Comparing a photo listing that may have been enhanced to an authentic video is like comparing the person on the cover of a magazine to what they look like in real life, which is likely significantly different.
The truth is, most people are tired of fake listings but still prefer to call on an apartment with a beautifully enhanced photo over one showcasing a raw video. Both consumers and real estate agents have an opportunity to bring transparency to the real estate industry and eliminate manipulated content by setting a higher standard and working with people who value, and maybe even demand, authentic content.