A review by Amanda

Sale Ezy's 'Tech building Trust' series provides regular reviews of apps and businesses that support the real estate industry and help build trust between agents, buyers and sellers.

If you have ever purchased or sold a house, you will know one of the most important promotional tools for any property sale is photography. Properties with few photos (or none) are much less likely to gain interest online, and as such, encouraging people along to opens is also much more difficult.

This month, we take a slightly different approach to our Tech Building Trust review, as we check out software for agents, rather than buyers or sellers.

We'll dive into platform, 'Zoner', and provide some valuable guidance as to what edits are a-ok, and what may leave you with a nasty fine.

Why does photo editing software matter in real estate?

While hiring a professional photographer can absolutely give you an advantage, paying for an expert isn't always a realistic option.

If you don't have a photographer, usually it's your agent who will take the property photographs for you.

An agent must be very careful about how they edit and adjust photos; however, simple edits can help ensure the buyer sees more detail and has a more accurate vision of the property.

What do agents need to look out for when editing?

When editing a property photo, some changes are acceptable and won't be considered misrepresenting the property, while other changes could leave you in hot water.

The below does not constitute legal advice (if you want some, we recommend JemmesonFisher), but provides some simple guidance as to what may and may not be ok.

1. Colour correction

Sometimes a camera just can't capture a realistic image of a room and as such, the photo just doesn't do the space justice. If the lighting or other factors in your photo mean the colour in the room isn't accurate to real life, consider correcting the colour.

In contrast, if the front yard is bare dirt, adding in some grass that doesn't exist in reality could be a problem!

2. Impermanent fixtures and conditions

While a house may be beautiful, a big skip bin in front doesn't present the most attractive picture. But in reality, that skip bin may only have been there while the tenant was moving -- the only time the agent could take photos. Removing the skip bin from the photo will generally be deemed ok.

In opposition to this, shifting the house next door a few metres to the left so your property seems to have a bigger yard... well, we probably don't need to tell you to put the mouse down!

3. Getting the right angle

If you're not a pro photographer (and even sometimes if you are), getting the perfect angle, or even the vertical alignment correct can be a challenge.

Using an editor to straighten up your shot so the ground appears as flat as it is in reality, or cropping the image to focus on particular areas is usually fine.

On the other hand, changing the background from a bustling city to ocean views is a definite NO!

4. Virtual staging

We did an article exploring the new trend of virtual staging recently -- it is a great approach that can save you money and improve engagement with your listing, but it can also have its downfalls, as noted in 'Virtual staging: what is it and is it legal?'.

There are fine lines here about what you can and cannot add to a photo of a lovely empty lounge room, so if you are uncertain, seek advice.

How can you edit easily, quickly and cost-effectively?

There are a lot of photo-editing platforms and software offerings out there, from the very expensive, like Photoshop, to the free versions that often leave a watermark on your image, or have you using a paint brush to free-hand straight lines (impossible!).

The right software can make your life a lot easier and save you time.

We recently had the opportunity to try out new offering, Zoner.

As a Photoshop user of many years for my job and also for personal hobbies, I'm always dubious of lower cost alternatives, but I was really pleasantly surprised. Zoner pitches itself as an alternative to Photoshop and Lightroom, and in a lot of ways, that claim holds up.

The pros and cons of using Zoner:

1. Right from the start it was easy to set up, and it downloads to my desktop -- so I don't need to be online and in a browser to use it! This gave me confidence as I know how complex other photo platforms are.

2. Autorenew was not automatically set -- it might seem silly, but I have dozens of software subscriptions (you can't just buy ANYTHING outright anymore) and when I purchase my annual subscription, most are set to auto-renew. That means, a year later, when I've forgotten what date I purchased them, they automatically charge me again, even if I don't want to continue using the platform. Zoner was not set to auto-renew without my consent.

3. There is a tour -- when you first start using the platform, there is a click-through tour that shows you all the most useful tools and how they work. This is great for beginners and also those used to other platforms.

4. It was relatively intuitive -- using Zoner was fairly easy, though I did have a little trouble navigating around. I am used to other platforms so this may be a factor -- I'm sure with practice, I'd have it in no time!

5. It has some helpful templates -- for those looking to design promotional brochures, mail drops or other marketing materials using your photos, Zoner provided some really user-friendly templates with nice drag and drop function. It was limited in some ways though, for example, the font choices were a little limited making it more difficult to stick to corporate brand.

6. Photo organisation at its best -- one thing to look out for, as an agent with vast arrays of photos for every property, is the library/catalogue feature which allows you to organise your shots, add descriptions or notes or even GPS locations so you can easily find them later and recall your intention for them.

7. Create easy videos from your pictures -- one thing we really loved, especially because not enough agents are using video -- is the platform allows you to easily compile shots into a video you can edit and customise. Output it to an MP4 and upload it straight into property portals!

8. It has everything an agent needs -- when it comes to photo editing it was quite comprehensive and certainly had everything an agent requires when editing property photos or office team shots.

The verdict: At a time when many agencies are cutting costs by cancelling subscriptions, Zoner offers a very cost-effective and quite comprehensive photo-editing studio, though it may take a little playing to get used to -- give it a go!

** Sale Ezy was provided the opportunity to test and trial this product, but does not have a company relationship with Zoner.