This Apartment is Fake

Agents Are Using AI to Improve Listings

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Zoopla

Take a look at that lovely image of a very yellow bathroom. The photo was part of a property listing on Zoopla designed to show off the apartment in all its glory. Here’s a question for you: Where’s the bathroom sink?

That’s right—the longer you look at the above image, the stranger it becomes. At first glance, it’s a simple bathroom furnished with a bunch of plain IKEA furniture. But things seem a little out of place. The angles seem wrong, and what appears to be the bathroom sink on the left doesn’t seem to have a basin or taps to pour the water.

In the past year, real estate agents have begun furnishing their listing photos with artificial intelligence.

It has long been known that a furnished property can be much more attractive to buyers than an empty one that might be more difficult to imagine yourself living in.

There’s even a term for it, too: staging. There’s an entire industry of companies that stage homes on the market, like Meridith Baker, who furnishes over 150 listings per month across the US, which often sell for up to six figures over asking. A staged home can inspire buyers by showing them a finished product.

Staging makes sense for the big mansions and millionaire holiday homes, but your average landlord and letting agent probably can’t afford to stage their apartments. Even if they did, it certainly wouldn’t add six figures to the price.

But then along came artificial intelligence. Solopreneur and self-named indie-hacker Peter Levels was one of the first to build on top of AI models like ChatGPT to create products like InteriorAI.

Level’s website allows users to redesign their interior in seconds for a small fee digitally. The app can be used to change your existing furnishings to a new style or add furniture to an empty apartment. Try InteriorAI here. 

It’s impossible to know which tools landlords and agents are using to furnish their empty apartment listings. One thing we do know is that people are unsure how to react to this new trend. At least when you stage an apartment with authentic furniture, the furniture is actually there when you show up to view the place.

These AI-staged images have a certain catfish deceptive feel. They’re as fake as fake can be. We certainly can’t imagine how people react when they do rock up to the beautifully furnished apartment to find an empty room that’s not at all yellow and totally void of a bathtub and a sink.

In an online world that is slowly filling up with fake images, be that this example or heavily manipulated pictures of Kate Middleton, it’s getting more and more difficult to gauge what’s genuine online.

Truth be told, every image you take with your phone is a little bit fake. Most phones already rely on AI to produce the best combination of the many photos they take when you think you’re only taking one snap.

Next time you get sucked into looking at properties online and dreaming of which one to buy someday, remember to ask yourself… where’s the sink?!

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