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November 14, 2012 | Media Statement
Perth property buyer’s agency Property Wizards is urging investors to prioritise on-the-ground property inspections early in their search for an investment or enlist professional help, saying it was the only way to ensure they weren’t being deceived by online photographs being used to sell homes.
Property Wizards’ Liz Sterzel said that while the internet had made searching for property investments easier in many ways, it had also thrown up a new challenge for buyers.
“Since the internet has become the primary way of marketing houses photographs have become a massive part of an agent’s selling strategy but, as the old saying goes, looks can be deceiving,” she said.
Ms Sterzel said that while Property Wizards wasn’t aware of any photographs of WA homes being retouched to misrepresent the property, image dimensions were sometimes altered giving the illusion of spaciousness.
“It is not uncommon to see ‘stretched’ images in property sales ads which make the home and its rooms seem much bigger than they actually are and when the unsuspecting buyer arrives to find a tiny house, not the spacious property they had thought was going for a great price, it can be a big shock,” she said.
“Often this stretching may not be done to intentionally mislead buyers – it can be as simple as an agent or their assistant lacking the technical skills to correctly load photos onto the internet – but either way it can be incredibly frustrating and time consuming for investors and there’s no excuse for it.”
Ms Sterzel explained that, with experience, it was possible to detect images with altered dimensions.
“As buying professionals, we examine the photos looking for tell-tale signs such as doorways, cupboards and appliances that look wider than normal and then mentally adjust the size of the room accordingly,” she said.
Another trap was forgetting what wasn’t being documented.
“Of course, only the very best pictures are shown in internet ads, so if buyers find a home they are keen on, it’s crucial for them or their buyer’s representative to get on the ground quickly and ensure that what they’re looking at is real – and also to find any bad elements of the house that aren’t featured in the photos!” said Ms Sterzel.
“Inspections allow you to see first-hand not only the good parts of a property, but also the bad so you know exactly what you are getting.
“Agents need to keep top-of-mind that misrepresenting a property through photos, facts or price is not only wrong but that it just doesn’t make sense – potential buyers are not stupid and will simply walk away when they discover they’ve been deceived, meaning everyone’s time has been wasted.”
Ms Sterzel said the Real Estate and Business Agents Act 1978, which governed the conduct of real estate agents in WA, included a Code of Conduct for Agents and Sales Representatives which clearly stated that an agent must act fairly and honestly and must not knowingly mislead or deceive any parties in a transaction.
“The penalties for failing to comply with the Code can be severe, and agents and sales representatives who don’t toe the line may also find themselves at the wrong end of laws protecting consumers which can see them face potentially huge fines and charges,” she said.
Property Wizards works with local, interstate and overseas buyers seeking to buy or develop property in the greater Perth metropolitan area.
The agency’s exceptional customer service in helping investors snare superior properties has seen it recently presented with a Gold Australian Customer Service Award for 2012.