By the time you step to an open house or schedule a viewing, you’ve probably done plenty of online research. Both Realtors and private home sellers know this, which gives them an advantage if you’re not careful.
The savviest real estate professionals and investors know how to manipulate photos so that a house looks grander than it is, make a neighborhood seem more appealing to people who don’t know it, and design an online listing that appeals to you even if the house isn’t your perfect match. It’s curb appeal gone virtual.
There’s a fine line between good marketing and deceptive marketing. Wherever it is, if you fall prey to these tactics you’ll waste your time and may become too frustrated to continue looking.
Knowing the tell-tale signs of marketing that overshadows the reality is your best defense. As a potential home buyer, you need as much solid information as possible.
Here are the most common tricks used online and what may really be underneath.
Image Source: Pixabay
1. Fishbowl photo lens
You know the photos that capture an entire room and the center seems to be magnified? Those are incredibly deceptive and simply do not present the accurate shape or size of a room. Yes, they can show you an entire layout the way that regular photos can’t, but don’t fall for them.
2. Glowing reviews
It’s smart to check the reviews of Realtors and real estate companies, but it’s also easy to post fake writeups. Don’t assume that just because you’re dealing with a seller’s agent who has five stars with 5,000 reviews that you’ll be treated fairly. Take them with a grain of salt.
3. Too many photos of the neighborhood
You’re buying a house, not a neighborhood. This is an age-old trick to sell, for example, a beach house that’s falling apart but just happens to be somewhat near to a gorgeous beach.
One photo of the beach can be nice and useful, but the majority of the graphic content should focus on the actual property. Too many photos of the yard and not enough of the structure should also raise a red flag for you.
4. Gorgeous descriptions
It’s the job of a seller to, well, sell a home, and if a professional writer has whipped up the descriptions, good for them. However, don’t get distracted by a stunning description; you have to weed out the facts.
It matters a lot what year the roof was replaced, for instance, not how artfully the “sloping copper shingles catch the sunlight.”
Your best bet is a video tour that can be minimally manipulated and a Google Street View. That’ll get you much closer to brute honesty.