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Hilarious, terrible listing’s pics make us question the legality of virtual staging

(MARKETING) Real estate staging improves any listing’s appeal, but done poorly and virtually leads to an unintentional laughing stock.

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Real estate practitioners and photographers know you can’t Photoshop out the brown grass or ugly power lines in a listing’s photos. There’s major liability if you misrepresent the property you’re trying to sell. You already know that. But what about artificially adding in elements?

Clients often stage homes to give it that ready to move in feel. Staging gives potential buyers a chance to visualize what can fit into a space and at some price points is expected. The rise of virtual staging software and augmented reality apps speak to the power of staging. Professional staging.

However, virtual staging is best left to buyers to pursue on their own. Virtual staging in images of an actual home for sale is a big no-no. Surely no one would really use faked photos for a professional listing though, right?

Think again. We invite you to soak up this unintentionally hilarious listing in Massachusetts, featuring fake staging, ambitious proportions, and impossible furniture angles.

While the home looks perfectly normal and real from the outside, treat yourself to a journey of the interior:

Behold, a rug to make even non-OCD folks cringe. The other pieces are pretty convincing, and they would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for that meddling rug angle.

While the virtual additions may be well-intentioned, this visual trickery makes it difficult to tell what’s truly included in the house. Is that built-in cabinet really there, or is it more Photoshop magic?

The kitchen seems pretty harmless in terms of fakery, but honestly it’s a little hard to tell what’s included or how physics works properly. You have to squint a bit to discover that you’ll need to install your own pot and pan rack (and 10 pound wheel of cheese), setting false expectations for buyers.

If a buyer falls in love with an element that was artificially added, a real life tour could lead to heartbreak (not to mention legalities around what conveys).

You’re not doing future homeowners any favors by faking the inside. Staging gives potential buyers a chance to visualize what can fit into a space. Digitally displaying furniture at wonky angles and haphazard proportions doesn’t give an accurate depiction of the home.

This example may be eye-wateringly laughable, but fudging details about the home you’re trying to sell has serious negative implications. Even if adding elements is meant to be helpful, it is dishonest. Especially when it’s done this poorly.

Include real pictures, and let potential buyers play around with augmented reality and digital design. Providing dimensions of rooms would be more helpful than ‘shopping in fake furniture.

Editing photos for better lighting is okay, but removing or adding elements reduces the integrity of your listing. Avoid a world of headache and potential litigation by accurately representing the property. If you can’t legally edit items out of listing photos, can you legally edit items into them?

Lindsay is an editor for The American Genius with a Communication Studies degree and English minor from Southwestern University. Lindsay is interested in social interactions across and through various media, particularly television, and will gladly hyper-analyze cartoons and comics with anyone, cats included.

Real Estate Brokerage

Startup lets you buy shares of ultra expensive cars, are houses next?

(REAL ESTATE) This cool startup lets you buy shares of rare classic cars, Ferraris, super cars, and the like – it’s not mainstream yet, but housing’s next. Here’s why.

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Startup lets you buy shares of ultra expensive cars, are houses next?

While the vast majority of cars significantly depreciate in value the moment they are driven off of the showroom floor, for those rare models that become enduring classics there’s typically two barriers to ownership: scarcity and price.

The market for collector cars thus has been limited to those few who were wealthy enough to afford the purchase, limiting ownership of vintage models such as Lotus, Ferrari, and Lamborghini to the select. And the value doesn’t decrease for these vehicles after the point of purchase; over the past decade, the value of classic cars has increased by over 400 percent, according to the Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index.

Rally Rd., a New York based company founded in 2016, offers those of us who would want to own such vehicles the opportunity to do so – or at least a portion of them.

The company selects cars to purchase based on market data that indicates that the vehicle is a good investment designed to yield returns, and then provides users with comprehensive information about the particular vehicle itself, including detailed overviews of the mechanical and visual aspects of the car. In the near future, there are plans to offer 24-hour access to a live stream video for users who have invested, allowing for a real-time connection to investments.

The process is straightforward for the investor.

Rally Rd. purchases the vehicles and maintains the titles. A subsidiary company is then created for each, with the company hosting SEC-registered offerings. Potential investors can then purchase one or more of the 2,000 to 5,000 equity shares in the cars during the investment window. Shares in the cars begin at $50 and increase steadily, depending solely on the car’s valuation, with the company not charging commissions or management fees.

“Each investment on Rally Rd. is essentially a mini public company,” says Christopher Bruno, the start-up’s co-founder and CEO, speaking to CNBC. “Our investors are able to create a custom, diversified portfolio of equity interest in blue-chip collector cars, share by share.”

Once a car is fully funded on the site, trading for that specific vehicle is closed. The company opens the window for trading on vehicles monthly, allowing users to buy and sell stakes in cars that they had previously missed, or those which they no longer want to own. For the investor, such a window allows them to realize increases in the value of their investment.

For example, a 1955 Porsche 356 Speedster’s window for trading closed in December 2018, with shares appreciating 15% from its initial valuation of $425,000 when initially offered, moving from $212.50 to $245.00. Rally Rd.’s inventory is always available for sale, with proceeds from the sale paid to shareholders, as well as additional dividends possible if the car realizes any special revenues, such as being rented for use in a project like a movie or television show. The decision to sell a vehicle from their inventory is made based on information from the vehicle’s investors, collected through their proprietary app, and the company’s advisory board.

With over 20 cars available, investors have a range from which to choose, and the company plans to have 100 in their inventory at the end of 2019. Buoyed by two rounds of funding this year, which netted it $10 million, Rally Rd. is planning to expand their investing opportunity from a website and an app to a vehicle showroom, much like other car dealerships, allowing users of the platform to attend initial offerings of new stock in person, if they so choose.

With the first such showroom set to open in SoHo in New York City, other possible locations for future showrooms include California, Florida, and Texas. To expand their portfolio for the investor, Rally Rd. expects to announce expansions into other arenas in 2019 as well, including investments in art and sports memorabilia, which, as markets, have a more established footprint in fractional ownership opportunities.

Rally Rd. sees these plans for expansion – of both products available for investment and method of doing so—as necessary to engage their diverse investor base. The company has seen a large majority of its users, which they number at over 50,000, come from the ranks of millennials. “They’re investing earlier. They want to see diversification. They’re comfortable investing online,” said Bruno, speaking to CNBC. “They seem to really fit our model very well. They get it immediately.”

We’re seeing the investment world open up to buying shares of alternative assets, even housing.

For now it’s not a mainstream method, but the housing market will be impacted by the creativity blossoming in America. Whether Rally Rd branches out into housing or multifamily is unknown, but others are already testing the waters, so stay tuned.

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Real Estate Brokerage

Chip & Joanna Gaines properties continue to become short term rentals

(REAL ESTATE) Chip & Joanna Gaines are beloved flippers, but recipients are no longer living in their dream homes that were aired on tv.

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Chip and Joanna Gaines: Reality TV stars, business moguls, American treasures. Millions of viewers have watched Chip and Jo flip homes into their clients’ homes of their dreams on the HGTV hit, Fixer Upper, and the ending scene of each episode showcased each family enjoying their new home among beloved family and friends.

However, according to Realtor.com, the majority of the homes meant to be enjoyed by families are now short-term rentals featured on websites such as Airbnb, Homeaway, and VRBO.

The most recent listing? A house purchased and renovated for the show’s Executive Producer, Michael Matsumoto, is listing his home for a bargain price — compared to other Fixer Upper listings — at only $300 a night.

The listing reads: “stay at the Producer of FIXER UPPERS home built for the finale of season 4. A 20 minute drive to Waco it’s the perfect retreat. This home is family friendly and ideal for entertaining family and friends. It has a beautiful open concept kitchen with plenty of cooking essentials, 2 full baths with a rain shower in the master, original bunk beds seen on TV, huge yard great for kids complete with play structure, basketball court and a small gym.”

Sounds pretty legit, right?

Even though the four-bedroom, 2-bath Crawford ranch is beautiful and spacious, the home was originally purchased for $12,500, so charging $300 a night is quite the investment return.

Another home known as The Bardonminium recently sold for 1.2 million to a real estate investor, who now lists the home for up to $1500 a night. According to a Magnolia spokesperson, Chip and Joanna prefer their clients to live in the homes, rather than simply turning them into cash cows.


Masmuto Farm House: Source: Airbnb

In Waco, where the average price per square foot is only $99, short-term rentals for Fixer Upper homes are without a doubt a lucrative opportunity.

But watching a house renovation to see it become an Airbnb is a lot less appealing than watching it become a family’s dream home.

A 1,050 sq. foot shotgun house costing $28,000 was recently listed for $950,000.

Which brings us to the question: why wasn’t an “Airbnb clause” written into the contracts of the buyers yet? We’re honestly not sure, but it looks like that’s about to change.

Magnolia spokesperson, Brock Murphy, recently issued a statement saying, “We are going to be more strict with our contracts involving ‘Fixer Upper’ clients moving forward…we want to ensure that [short-term renting] does not get lost in this new vacation rental trend,” the statement continued. “We are going to do our best to protect that moving forward.”

It is worth considering a similar clause for fellow flippers, and with this spotlight, we anticipate the industry and HOAs will be looking more closely at this topic.

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Real Estate Brokerage

How to achieve a winning business culture

(BUSINESS) Achieve a winning business culture by checking in on four important categories that are time-tested and proven to improve your company.

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When it comes to the term “business culture,” we all have a tendency to throw it around without a precise definition that fits our respective companies specifically. It can be argued that some type of culture will form, regardless of the emphasis you put on it – that’s just human nature. But, how can we check in to make sure that the business culture we’re exuding is an effective one?

A few months back, I was told about a simple way to test your business culture, in a method developed by Franklin Covey. In order to have a winning culture, a culture must have organizational focus and execution shining from great leaders and effective individuals.

With this, there are four categories which contribute to a winning culture. These include: distinctive contribution, engaged team members, loyal customers, and sustained performance.

You may be reading this and going, “well, no duh,” but let’s think about this for a second. Even if you can explain the factors that would make up a strong culture, does that mean that your company has them?

In terms of distinctive contribution, it’s important to look past what your company does on a day-to-day basis and see what you’re doing to make a difference in the world. Does your company give back to the community? Does your team feel proud to work for a company that does good for others?

Speaking of your team members, do they seem to be engaged? So many people go into work with a lackluster attitude and that has a poor effect on their output.

Are you doing things within your culture to make your team feel engaged and productive? This can range from weekly meetings designed to brainstorm and hear everyone’s opinion, to programs that award hard work with fun incentives.

When you have team members that are engaged and hardworking, they will display this to the public and will likely help in attracting loyal customers. Customers can tell when a company and its team are being genuine, and that carries so much weight in terms of retention.

This leads to the final aspect of sustained performance. You must be present and consistent with your customers in order to give them repeated satisfactory performance time and time again.

It’s likely that our business cultures can all enhance in one or more of these categories, and, what better timing than going into a new year?

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