The grass is greener on this real estate ad, but what are the rules around enhancing photos?


Roger Pettingell Sarasota Real Estate

An advertisement for an Adelaide house with an unnaturally green lawn has amused many online, but has also sparked questions about how much enhancement is too much when it comes to real estate sales.

The house for sale in Elizabeth Downs, in Adelaide’s north, was noticed by a Reddit user who posted the image on the social media platform asking: “How do I get my grass this green?”

Both the front and back lawns of the house appear to be photoshopped over with a bright green colour. 

“That’s the new strain of grass called ‘Chernobyl’, you should see it at night-time,” one Reddit user joked.

Another person said filters were OK “but using MS paint I don’t think is allowed”.

The agent selling the property, Sam Swami, said the grass at the property was “very dry” so he decided to fix it.

He expected anyone buying the house would come look at it.

“We photoshopped it to make it look good and they can see what’s there,” he said.

He said most people would be more interested in the land than the house or garden.

A backyard with an unnaturally green lawn
The backyard of the property in the ad.(Property Gurus SA)

The house, on 725 square metres, is for sale for between $340,000 and $350,000.

It last sold a year ago for $183,000.

It also sold for a similar amount in 2010.

Enhancements to real estate photos common

South Australia’s Land and Business (Sale and Conveyancing) Act states that real estate agents cannot use “a false or misleading representation for the purpose of inducing another person to sell or purchase land or a business”.

The maximum penalty is a $20,000 fine or one year in jail.

“It is not necessary for the prosecution to establish that the defendant knew the representation to be false or misleading, but it is a defence for the defendant to prove that he or she had reasonable ground to believe, and did believe, the representation to be true,” the law states.

Real Estate Institute of South Australia chief executive Cain Cooke said he had contacted the agent.

The photos in the advertisement have now been edited to crop out the grass.

“While it is a property professionals’ role to present a property in its best light to the market, REISA considers that any manipulation that misrepresents the property in anyway could be seen as false and misleading advertising,” Mr Cooke said.

A red brick house with dry lawn and a bin outside
An image of the house from when it was sold in 2010.(Raine & Horne Salisbury)

Adelaide real estate photographer Thomas McNally said it was common for agents to ask for touch-ups such as removing oil stains from driveways or cracks from walls, but some had also asked him to remove stobie poles and water towers from images.

“Some agents are pretty ridiculous what they ask, but when people go to the property, they can see what it’s like,” Mr McNally said.

Virtual furniture could also make it easier for people to visualise how a house would look with their furniture in it, especially for new homes, he said.

He speculated that the Elizabeth Downs home with unusually green grass may have been done deliberately to gain publicity.

“It’s so bad that someone’s done that on purpose as a joke,” he said.

Last month, a North Adelaide apartment with a toilet in the living room raised questions about what was legal when it came to rental property standards.

The apartment was listed for rent between $400 and $420.

201 oconnel
This North Adelaide apartment made headlines. (Supplied)

Posted , updated 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.