Does airbrushing a model in a magazine offend you? It probably does, but it's so known and expected that the images that the "mass media" is asking us to buy into are altered to be perfect, that it's not a real big deal anymore. So what if the images of a property are altered? What if they are altered electronically before including them on listing sheets, MLS and other ad and listing services? Software is being developed that allows people to, with a click of a mouse, to change a wall color, delete an old couch and replace it with a new, posh one in a different part of the room. Add some paintings, put down hardwood, decorate with plants and fun lamps and you have a whole new space. For no conventional staging costs and no heavy lifting. The actual, physical property itself remains unaltered.
Is this OK? I mean, is it false advertising? It is, on one hand, demonstrating the potential of the space, but what a let down it would be to arrive in an ugly space when you were expecting a staged one. From the point of view of a real estate professional, it is key to accurately represent a property. In fact, "Real estate professionals are not allowed to make a home up to be something it's not. If a consumer views an image of a home in a way that it's not, that may be considered misrepresentation of property.... Real estate agents may even be in violation of their Code of Ethics if they in fact use altered images, without the physical changes made in homes they represent, in their marketing materials."
What do you think? Do the potential costs of the virtual staging outweigh the coolness and potential benefits? In a world that is moving progressively towards an online-centric environment, would people just eventually learn to accept that the images are a reflection not of the real space in a home, but of an electronically altered, "perfect space"? I guess it comes down to redefining norms; changing what is expected. I don't know how long it will take this, but nothing ever stays static for too long in this day and age.