White, or Not?

By Dave Fratello | June 21st, 2019

There's a troubling trend in video known as "deepfakes," in which elaborate technologies are applied to video footage to make it appear that a real person did, or said, something that they did not do or say.

If you can't believe what your eyes are seeing, or your ears are hearing, what can you believe?


Far, far lower on the rungs of this particular ladder of deception are... doctored real estate photos.

But the doctor is in. Here. Now.

In Manhattan Beach real estate, doctored photos are popping up each month.

It has become relatively routine to see homes marketed not as they are, but as they might be. Paint colors are changed. "Virtual staging" is added. There was one recently where a full-bore remodel of the exterior of an old house was rendered and used as photo #1.

All of this must be great for the marketers, but it's not so great for the consumers.

Today's example is is 1601 19th (4br/4ba, 2850 sqft.).

This is a pleasant, corner-lot Mediterrean in East MB, steps from Polliwog Park and, if you're a (little league) baseball fan, even closer to our local Premier Field.

Over the course of 2 months on market, the home has dropped in price from $2.359M to $2.199M this week.

But the biggest change this week in its market presentation may be how it looks.

How it looks online.

See that photo of the Spanish-inflected white exterior?

That is a vision. An option. A possibility.

It's currently the first photo in the listing, but it is not the first impression you would get if you stood outside.

1601 19th Street Manhattan Beach CABecause this is how it looks today.

Wait, not white?


The listing agents have helpfully crafted a rendering of what the home might look like if you bought it, then hired painters to give it a once-over.

A whitewash, if you will.

It all takes some explaining.

If you look at the photo through the official MLS portal view, you will see a label or caption on the whitewashed image stating that it is a "Rendering of the house in white." With that kind of disclosure, agents can post "visionary" (not true) images.

Odds are, however, that most people viewing the home online will not be viewing it in the official CRMLS portal view. You'll be seeing it here, on MB Confidential, or on Zillow or that other app. The caption does not typically feed out to other websites or to that app.

And if our sites show you that the home has a white exterior, when it does not, we just have to hope that you understand.

Do you?

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