Understanding the Virtual Staging Disclaimer

Virtual staging disclaimer is a legally binding disclosure that informs potential buyers or viewers that the images of a property have been digitally altered or enhanced, often to showcase its potential through the addition of virtual furnishings or modifications.

The purpose of this disclaimer is to maintain transparency, prevent misrepresentation, and protect all parties involved in the real estate transaction from any false expectations or misunderstandings.

By including such disclaimers on marketing materials featuring virtually staged images, real estate professionals adhere to ethical guidelines and consumer protection laws while mitigating potential legal risks.

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By George Nicola (Expert Stager)

Table of Contents

If you are a real estate agent or a home seller considering virtual staging but uncertain about its legality, this article will illuminate the importance of adhering to ethical guidelines and providing disclaimers in virtual staging.

We’ll explore an example of improper virtual staging practices and discuss how to ensure the service’s legality for a successful property transaction.

Did you know that almost every other listing is in the wrong doing?

In the world of real estate, virtual staging can be an effective marketing tool and adding fancy objects to property images is not everything.

It is important to remain mindful of the potential legal consequences of misrepresentation and to craft an effective virtual staging disclaimer.

This article will explore the importance of transparency in real estate marketing, the legal consequences of misrepresentation, and how to balance visual appeal with accurate representation.

What is a disclaimer?

Real estate disclaimers qualify information provided to manage reliance and liability concerning aspects that are estimated or may change for a property transaction.

A disclaimer in the context of real estate is a statement that limits responsibility for claims or damages arising from a transaction. Real estate disclaimers are commonly used by agents and brokers.

  • Common real estate disclaimers include statements like “Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed”, “Sq ft is approximate”, “School district boundaries are subject to change” etc.
  • These disclaimers are usually included in property listings and marketing materials to disclose that information provided is not warranted to be perfectly accurate or complete.
  • Legally, disclaimers help shield real estate professionals from liability for minor errors, changes, or reliance on the available information by buyers.
  • For buyers, disclaimers serve as an alert that certain details may need independent verification and not take the listings as foolproof facts.
  • Real estate disclaimers aim to provide transparency that data rely on public records or third parties so buyers should do their own due diligence.
  • Disclaimers discourage unrealistic expectations about aspects of properties that can naturally change over time after listing.
  • Proper use of disclaimers helps real estate agents practice duty of care to clients by noting assumptions and unknowns upfront.

The Importance of Transparency in Real Estate Marketing

It is important to note that the virtual staging disclaimer is not the same as a disclosure form.

A disclosure form in real estate is a legally required document that sellers provide to potential buyers, revealing any known issues or defects with the property.

This form aims to inform buyers about potential problems or concerns, such as structural damage, termite infestations, water leaks, or other maintenance issues.

The purpose of a disclosure form is to promote transparency in the transaction process and protect both parties from future disputes related to undisclosed defects.

It is essential for real estate marketers to maintain transparency in order to ensure a reliable customer experience.

 

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When it comes to virtual staging, this requires the marketing team to be clear about what was or was not digitally altered in the photos or videos.

A lack of transparency can lead to customers feeling misled, which can damage their trust in the brand.

Real estate marketers should make sure to include a disclaimer in any marketing materials that involve virtual staging, clearly indicating what changes were made and which elements are real.

This will help build credibility and ensure that customers have an accurate understanding of the property being marketed.

Legal Consequences of Misrepresentation

Misrepresenting the condition of a property can lead to legal consequences for all involved parties.

Real estate agents, brokers, home sellers, and virtual staging companies should be aware of the legal risks they face if they are found to have misrepresented a property.

Depending on the severity of the misrepresentation, the consequences could range from a simple warning to hefty fines and/or jail time.

Misrepresentation of a property can be seen as fraud, which is a serious criminal offense.

To avoid these legal consequences, all parties should strive for transparency and accuracy when marketing a property.

This means that virtual staging companies should be open and honest about the techniques used to stage a room, such as providing disclaimers and labeling photos as virtual staging.

Doing so will ensure that prospective buyers have an accurate understanding of the condition of the property.

Crafting an Effective Virtual Staging Disclaimer

Crafting an effective disclaimer can help to ensure that prospective buyers have an accurate understanding of the condition of the property.

A virtual staging disclaimer should include a clear statement of the fact that the images are digitally enhanced, and that the property may not look the same in person.

Below is an example found on Zillow (Summerville) where the agent did not disclose properly the photos are digitally altered.

photo without virtual staging disclaimer
photo without virtual staging disclaimer

The correct way to digitally alter real estate photos and add furniture is:

To add a disclaimer within the photo or as a text in the description.

The disclaimer should include language that absolves the seller from any liability arising from the misrepresentation of the property.

It should also include language that encourages the buyer to view the property in person before making any decisions.

photo with virtual staging disclaimer
photo with virtual staging disclaimer

The disclaimer should be written in plain language that is easy to understand for a general audience, and should be prominently displayed on any marketing materials or online listings.

By providing clear and accurate information, a virtual staging disclaimer can help to ensure that buyers understand exactly what they are viewing and make an informed decision.

Examples of virtual staging disclaimers

Virtual Staging Disclaimers for Images:

1. Virtually Staged Image:

(What does it tell to the viewer) This image has been digitally enhanced to showcase the potential of the property. Actual conditions may vary.

2. “Digital Alteration Notice:

(What does it tell to the viewer)  The furniture and décor in this image are virtual representations, intended to provide a visual example of the property’s possibilities.

3. “Virtual Staging Disclosure:

(What does it tell to the viewer)  The contents within this image have been added digitally for illustrative purposes only and do not reflect the current physical state of the property.

4. “Digitally Enhanced Image:

(What does it tell to the viewer) Please note that elements in this photograph, including furnishings and decorations, have been virtually staged to demonstrate potential design ideas.

5. “Virtual Staging:

(What does it tell to the viewer) This image contains digital modifications to depict potential use of space; actual conditions and items may differ.

Virtual Staging Disclaimers for Text:

1. “Please be advised that some images included in our marketing materials feature virtual staging techniques designed to illustrate the property’s potential appearance; these digitally altered images do not represent its current condition.”

2. “We wish to inform prospective buyers that certain photographs presented in our listings employ virtual staging methods, which include digital enhancements such as furniture and décor placements; these alterations are solely for visualization purposes.”

3. “Kindly note that select images used within our promotional content have undergone virtual staging processes, showcasing possible arrangements and aesthetics within the property; however, the actual space might differ from these depictions.”

4. “In an effort to maintain transparency, we disclose that specific images displayed on our platform incorporate virtual staging techniques aimed at demonstrating potential interior designs; please keep in mind that real-life conditions may deviate from these presentations.”

5. “It is crucial for interested parties to acknowledge that some photographs showcased in our marketing endeavors utilize virtual staging practices to highlight prospective layouts or design concepts; therefore, we encourage verifying on-site conditions before making any decisions.”

Balancing Visual Appeal with Accurate Representation

When creating digital images of a property, it is important to ensure that the visual appeal is balanced with an accurate representation of the property.

This is especially pertinent when it comes to virtual staging, as it is easy to embellish and present an unrealistic version of the space.

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Virtually staged by TALLBOX

Avoid bad virtual staging with TALLBOX

To accomplish this, it is important to carefully select and implement virtual staging elements that are realistic and achievable, such as furniture placement, lighting adjustments, and minor cosmetic changes.

By adhering to these principles, real estate professionals can harness the power of virtual staging to attract interested buyers while mitigating potential legal risks and promoting a positive experience for all parties involved.

Takeaway

When used ethically and responsibly, virtual staging can be a valuable tool for real estate marketing.

However, it is important to ensure that the virtual staging disclaimer is crafted carefully and accurately to protect against misrepresentation.

The disclaimer should clearly state that the property is virtually staged, and the images may not reflect the exact condition of the property.

This will ensure that potential buyers are aware that the property may differ from the virtual staging and that they must take further steps to view the property in its actual condition.

In this way, transparency is maintained and potential legal issues are avoided.