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New MLS Rules Regarding "Virtual Staging"

The MLS Information Network Committee recommended new language for MLS Rules & Regulations regarding the practice of "virtual staging" in MLS listing photos. The Board of Directors approved the recommendation on July 26, 2018. In summary, virtual staging may be used in MLS listing photos as long as the use of virtually staged photos is clearly disclosed in REALTOR® Remarks in the listing and certain restrictions are followed as described in Section 1, Note 5 of MAAR MLS Rules and Regulations which reads as follows:

“Virtual Staging is defined as using a photo editing software or service to create a photo or conceptual rendering of what the interior room(s) and/or interior of the property could look like if it was staged or lived in. Virtual Staging shall only be used for the interior of an existing structure. Virtual Staging shall not be used for Proposed Construction or Under Construction properties.

Disclosure of virtually-staged photo(s) is required in REALTOR® Remarks.

Permitted Uses of Virtual Staging in the Service:

a)     Modifying photo(s)/rendering(s) to include personal property items not conveyed with the real property is permitted. Permitted personal property modifications include, but are not limited to: applying digital photos of furniture, mirrors, artwork, plants, etc. into a photo of a room.
b)     Removing existing furniture from a photo and replacing it with digital images of furniture, mirrors, artwork, plants, etc.

Prohibited Uses of Virtual Staging in the Service

a)     No photos of the exterior of the property shall be virtually staged.
b)     No permanent fixtures or structure of the interior, including but not limited to walls ceilings, and floors, shall be removed, altered, or added.
c)     Modifying photo(s)/rendering(s) to include visual elements not within a property owner’s control is strictly prohibited. (example: editing in a view of Lake Erie, and/or popular landmarks that are not physically possible from the specified location in the real world.)
d)    Modifying photo(s)/rendering(s) to exclude negative visual elements is strictly prohibited. (example: holes in the wall, exposed wiring, damaged flooring, etc.)
e)     No branding is permitted. The use of people or persons and/or words on any property photograph submitted to the Service is strictly prohibited.”

Please review your listings to ensure your use of virtually staged photos complies with the new rule.

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