Dodgy things real estate agents do

I recently found this house for sale and noticed it appears to be photoshopped (especially the tree in the top left corner). Checking google maps (6 year old images) and driving around to take a screenshot from my dashcam it appears more than the tree has been photoshopped.

I would also like to hear of any stories of dodgy real estate agents so I can try to avoid them without being ripped off.

I've saved it in the wayback machine in case the real estate agent removes the photoshopped image.

Edit: Conclusion seems to be that the grass has been photoshopped. The sky has been made more blue and this has affected the tree in the top left corner, but the tree appears to have already been there. This photo also shows no lush green front lawn if you look out the windows.


  • The level of photoshopping in real estate listings is ridiculous here. Everything from outdoor surroundings to lighting to furniture to make things look better than they are when you inspect. Absolutely would not fly in the UK.

    All the furniture and perfect green grass in those pics are fake and photoshopped in.

    • Same things happen. I had it done to me by Foxtons. They REA wasn't impressed my in the first five minutes I compared to house searching like internet dating, everything looks so much better in the pictures vs real life.

    • +17 votes

      I found one last year where they'd uploaded both the original and photoshopped images to Quite funny to see a yard of dead grass, weeds and a brown pool, next image is striped lawn, gleaming blue pool and a lovely sunset sky.

    • this seems to be commonplace now across a lot of real estate agents. typically I see it used to insert furniture into the photo.

    • I find it amusing when they photo-shop in furniture but get the perspective/sizing all wrong.

    • Yep I've seen they just photoshop in furniture that is undersize to make a room look bigger in pictures.

    • Can confirm.

      REA pictures had lush green grass.
      Actual house had dirt patch.

  • its illegal in NSW - here you can report the agent to the NCAT - can't this be done in QLD?

  • I don't have aproblem with it as I will be inspecting the property in person, and if I am serious a separate inspection in the evening to see lighting and hear neighbourhood noise.

    • but it still wastes your time if it means you wouldn't even have gone to the inspection had they not photoshopped the photos

      • I look at the price, location, land size, school zone, then look at the photos.

        I go in understanding that the place may not be as advertised so I attend with an open mind and a keener eye for issues or things that I don't like (eg windowless bathrooms or small kitchens with little storage).

        • It’s still rubbish especially if your looking at appartments. They add fake backgrounds out the windows and you think your viewing an apartment with a view and light only to find out it faces the other building with no light.

        • A lot of uninhabitable properties are photo shopped to look habitable if you are in the lower end of the market. I mean huge cracks in walls etc.

      • +2 votes

        mate, you should have been around buying a house pre internet (yes yes, they all cost $3.50 and we are privileged). Most houses were literally 5 lines in the classified. Saturday morning you got up, circled whatever looked good and did a physical drive buy. 70% of the time you just kept driving.

        • Fortunately, technology has improved and we're no longer living in the Flintstones world. What's normal "back in the days" is no longer acceptable these days.

      • It does, but i guess people hired real estate agent and paid commission for these marketing services to maximise the number of buyers visiting these properties. Although some properties in some surburbs are sold for 6 million of dollars, hiring agent to sell these almost like giving them free cash.

    • Check also flight path. We live under a flight path, were often air crafts make big turns, to line up with the airport. It's only about 5 days a month.
      Flight altitude is still 2500 feet, so not really loud, and we actually enjoy it.

  • 🤣 I love it!

    The REA has to be trolling.

  • Only use the photos as a reference. Nothing beats going to the property and checking it out in person. Real estate agents want the sale so will try to do everything to attract interest. Touching up photos being one of them. Look at magazines and the models, photoshop working overtime lol.

    • Yes but, they want more people through the doors.

      It makes people think that because there is a lot of people there that it will sell fast if they don't put in an immediate best offer.

  • For a minute I thought that was a speed camera pole there….

  • I'm selling a unit and the artistic touches are amazing. All of the furniture and artwork is fake, as is the lighting.

  • The lighting is one of the key things that the photography people do for properties.

    Whilst the dam cam footage the OP took does not show the true lighting, all professional photos for properties make it look like the midday sun is shining in the backyard, the kitchen, and the living room.

    • Being a enthusiast photographer I feel the need explain about how this is done. I don't know who cares but anyway. This type of photography is called HDR photography (High Dynamic Range). It basically means that the photo has well lit areas everywhere. Areas where there wasn't much light will appear well exposed to light as if it was properly lit, while areas that were lit well are toned back to reduce over exposure and reduce the brightness of the light. This makes the image appear instantly unrealistic, but it impresses our eyes because we prefer photos that are well lit. HDR is achieved by taking 3 shots in succession: one less exposed, one highly exposed and one normally exposed and then combining all 3 into a single image which makes everything look well lit. Most cameras nowadays have a automatic HDR mode where the camera will do all the hard work for you to take the 3 shots and you can combine them later in your editing software like Lightroom or Photoshop.

      We have HDR in our phone cameras these days as it has become popular because we humans like our photos properly exposed in all situations. We want to take a selfie with the sun shining behind us but we still want our face to be well lit without shadow which is a challenging task for the camera. The camera software in phones has become so good now that using AI it constantly analyses the lighting conditions and combine frames in HDR in the background even before you click the shutter so that when you tap the shutter the phone can present you the pre rendered HDR image from a few milliseconds before you tapped the shutter rather than have a hiccup while it combines images into HDR. But DSLR cameras can capture much much more detail than our phones can even think of, thanks to the massive sensors in DSLRs and therefore real estate photographers use DSLRs.

      I'd say that photoshop happens less than you think in real estate, it's actually just over use of HDR photography and some color enhancements in Lightroom (saturation, sharpness, clarity etc). It's becoming more and more easy to edit photos as softwares improve. In fact there are some editing softwares specifically tailored to HDR photography like this one

      It is easy to spot HDR in any photo once you train your eye. Just check if every single area in a photo looks well lit including things like trees. If yes then you cannot trust that image as a real representation. Real photos have shadows, lots of shadows.

      • Another easy tell of an HDR photo is colours that look too saturated. Greens are too green etc.

        For real estate listings, look at photos from inside the house. Can you see the garden out of the window? Can you see details? Then it is probably an HDR photo, as the outside will typically be over-exposed white mess if taking shots inside the house.

      • In addition, good real estate photography is usually actually a bunch of shots stacked together each with a different area highlighted with a flash to get everything nicely lit.

        • Lol that's no longer real estate photography. No one has time for that unless they're amateur or enthusiast trying new things out. Save it for architectural and interior photographers to deal with that for a publication or portfolio. The difference in on site timings and delivery is vastly significant. End results are amazing though.

    • And a wide wide lens (from memory 19mm when they used 35mm bodies). It makes the rooms look much bigger.

  • I've given up on rental listings having anything to do with reality, staged or photoshopped to hell and then you're told everyone does it.

    I even had a Property manager try to use photoshopped pics to charge us for damage to the place, lucky I took pics and video when I moved in to shove it back up his butt.

  • During an inspection, an agent didn't mention the property's flood and bush fish risk rating. Have to do ones own due diligence.

  • FWIW, it's not like REA are the only ones doing this. Marketing materials for almost everything I buy never ends up looking like the right thing. Do your burgers from Maccas really look like the pictures they have on display?

    • +13 votes

      To even compare property to typical consumer products, where do we even begin.

      • To even compare property to typical consumer products, where do we even begin.

        You completely took what I said the complete opposite way to how I meant it. I'm not saying that what REA's are doing is okay because it happens elsewhere, but rather, the fact that it happens elsewhere and has become a baked-in part of our culture and society is what is leading REA's to do this (or at least feel like they have to do this).

        Regardless of what the price of the good is, whether it's McDonalds, a car, a property, financial assets or whatever the case may be, the amount of marketing and mis-representation is astounding.

    • Like this true to life soft cone?

  • Not just real estate agents but manipulating photos happens everywhere like food industry (photos of fast food burgers look amazing and nothing like the real thing), models, tinder, news etc

    To be fair, photo looks like someone tried to make the sky more blue but screwed up the trees.

    • I know it's hard to see the grass or lack thereof in the dash cam photo, but I'm pretty sure they photoshopped the grass too.

      • Yeap, good eye, grass is photoshopped too. Zoom in between the 2 main branches at the tree on the left.

  • +2 votes

    I thought this might be about the old "Oh, I have a higher offer that I haven't submitted to the owner yet, so if you could increase your offer to $xx+50k, I think you might get it"

  • +10 votes

    Everything :)

  • +12 votes

    The fact that part of the tree is transparent is a bit of a giveweay!

  • Dodgy things start when they move their lips

  • Well, in one of the other photos, that tree is definitely there, but looks like it turned unnatural in the process of photoshopping in the green grass and extra blue skies.

  • and noticed it appears to be photoshopped (especially the tree in the top left corner)

    Looks like colour correction/sky enhancement gone wrong to me. The 'tree' trunk is still very clearly there.

    You can see it on the other trees on the edges. At a guess it was a crap day the photos had been taken and the crappy photographer tried to 'enhance' the skyline. They also have applied this 'enhancement' to the picture in the backyard looking back at the house.

    it appears more than the tree has been photoshopped.

    Its all about the angles. Your pictures are from the street looking at the house. The agent picture is 3/4 of the way down the driveway looking at the house. Hint notice you can't see the letter box? Why is that? Because they are past the letter box.

    Nothing has been 'removed' from the picture like you think.

    • I know it's hard to see the grass or lack thereof in the dash cam photo, but I'm pretty sure they photoshopped the grass.

      • Maybe….. But hard to say. The agent picture was listed July 2020, your dashcam picture is from yesterday. Grass dies if unloved, but yes I wouldn't put it passed them laying down some new digital grass :)

        Your point was about the 'tree' and that wasn't removed as such, its just all about the angles.

        Why don't you go inspect it and see?

  • A common dodgy move is to list the price guide for an auction much lower than the reserve to create interest, get people to open days. Just a waste of peoples time. Looking at you Ray White Surry Hills.

    • It is dodgy but if you look at local sell prices there is no way those prices are reflective. Usually I double check to avoid wasting time. Also if you have enough research you probably know the local prices better than the REAs, they do back off.

      I also like when the form a circle with potential buyers and try to ask for opinions to drum up interest. I always dead pan deliver "I'd have to check the spreadsheet before giving an opinion" usually the look on their face is comical gold.

    • Not that it stops them as they're sub-human but there was this introduced in 2016 to combat it as it was just beyond stupid at times in Sydney for that.

  • Gestures broadly at everything

  • My god. That looks like a place where all manner of things go to die.

    • Yes. We in Brisbane call that "Goodna". Still, they have FTTP NBN while most of Brisbane got either cable or FTTN.

      • Still, they have FTTP NBN while most of Brisbane got either cable or FTTN.

        And surprise, surprise it's in the state Labor leader's own seat. What a co-incidence!

        • yes, because its well known that the ALP controls NBN

          I'm pretty sure thats right.

          • @dtc: I'm pretty sure the NBN was an ALP initiative in the first instance and that it rolled out FTTP to it's "favoured sites" before getting kicked out.

            • @Seraphin7: Categorically untrue.

              FWIW, Goodna was given fibre early because the telecoms network was badly damaged during the Brisbane floods. It just makes sense to have fibre there (even more than it makes sense to have fibre everywhere else).

              • @macrocephalic: Ah, OK, my apologies.

                Obviously just a co-incidence that at the time the ALP were presiding over the rollout, and the telco infrastructure in a senior state minister's (and future state leader's) seat was damaged so badly that this was the best solution. Do, please, excuse my misplaced cynicism.

                Are you able to confirm that all other areas in Brisbane similarly affected were also given FTTP?

                Are you able to confirm that all other areas across the country at the time with damaged telco infrastructure were given FTTP?

            • @Seraphin7: Have you listened to the ABC podcast about NBN, it gives a pretty good run down of what happened

  • They exist.

  • You might not realise but my avatar is also photoshopped, I don't look that good in real life!

  • The dodgiest thing they do is:

    Wake up in the morning.

  • Lol, they've photoshopped in all of the furniture/decorations in the dining room and bedrooms but the later photos seem to show untouched photographs of those rooms with real (albeit hideous) furniture in them.

    OP, that place looks like an unmitigated sh*thole by the way, even at the price they're asking for. Are you planning to just buy it for the land and build yourself?

  • It's funny when they half-ass it.

    Like in this listing where they went to the effort of photoshopping the grass on the outdoor shots, but neglected it when taking internal photos facing the backyard.

  • I've seen a few real estate online listings where they have left the photos up from the previous time it was on sale, which was prior to a renovation.
    Makes for interesting viewing when you can see all the earlier faults and problems.

    • You just need to look at Domain's property profile to get the photos from previous sales. House I bought recently had been sold 3 previous times and it was a great way to work out when the kitchen had been done.

  • One of the properties I looked at had pictures of when it was renovated 5 years ago. Went to view the place and it was a shit hole. All REAs are scum and no one can change my mind.

  • I had one recently that showed me a property that was listed for X and then after I made an offer, told the seller his price was too cheap and to put the price up. So I went on a wild goose chase

  • When I was looking for a house, we went to see an all brick house (I didn't want wood), and noticed that when I went down the side of the house, the 'brick' wall was warping in and out by about 30cms. So I took a closer look and realised that the house was a wooden house covered in asbestos brick look cladding. I informed the real estate agent as I left, and they never even bothered changing the ad.

    My old man tried to buy a coastal block a few years ago. He rung up and was told that the owner had decided to pull it off the market. It stayed on for a month or so more, then sold suddenly for way below the asking price (like a 30% reduction). My old man had been willing to pay asking price. That block reappeared on the market 6 months later, with an asking price of double what the buyer had paid 6 months before (and now with planning approval for (an awful) house. It sold pretty quickly for double the price. I strongly suspect that the estate agent or a friend/family member bought that block at a knockdown price after telling the owners there was no one interested, and flipped it for a huge profit.

    But what can you do?

    • yes they pulled that off the market one on me, but I checked with another agent and it was suddenly 10000 more

  • Some of the photoshopping can especially egregious from real estate agents.

    I've seen a house that basically had a dirt backyard which they photoshopped perfect lush green grass onto the photos. The vendor made them take the photos down.

    • Sounds like this house I was looking at. Hard to tell from my dash cam screenshot, but it's mostly dirt at least in the front yard.

  • Agent is currently bullshitting to the vendor….

    "views of your property listing online are up 3250% in the last 3 hours. I think it will be sold very soon."

  • easier to discuss the legit things they do…..

    • I'm going to release a 110 page book titled "The legit things Real Estate Agents do" and all the pages are blank.

  • It's also interesting how they take artistic, close-up pictures of the decorations/furniture, makes the photos look like they stole them from Instagram. I am trying to buy a house not your vase, damn it!

    • This. I stopped looking at real estate ads for a 3 years, and have started again recently, and now I find some agents photos are now half made up of bokeh effect shots on furnishings. Dumbest. Trend. Ever. I would prefer that they removed all artistic rubbish, and preferably all the staging too, and just show what you're actually buying, i.e. just the property itself. If you're not including it, I don't wanna see it!

  • Top