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'Here is what it could look like': Real estate agent uses AI to virtually stage home

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Staging a home can be time consuming and expensive, but now with artificial intelligence, you can see what a home would look like renovated or with a coat of paint.

Jamie Harnish, a real estate agent at Bosley Real Estate in Toronto, Ont., has taken a new approach to help his clients sell their homes, by experimenting with AI.

“Here is what it looks like, but here is what it could look like,” Harnish told CTV News Toronto.

In a real estate listing available through Realtor.ca, Harnish shows the actual state of the property, but with a few clicks using an AI software, the ad also includes photos of what the home could look like.

“Changing the colour of the walls, the cabinetry, changing the floors to give people an idea as to what might be possible,” said Harnish.

Vacant homes may be harder to sell, which is why many agents use traditional home staging, often with modern furniture and artwork. However, using virtual home staging or AI is much quicker and cheaper.

“We agree it does have a place and it’s a valuable resource depending on a seller’s budget,” said Nicole Schenk, Ontario President of the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA).

According to the RESA traditional stagers are not worried about AI taking over, because when buyers show up to a listing, the virtual furniture wouldn’t be there.

Schenk said some clients may even feel they’ve been misled with a bait and switch.

“They fell in love with what they saw, but when they get there, they are expecting something and when they don’t see it, it’s a disappointment,” she said.

Harnish told CTV News he’s only used AI in one listing so far and any photos used in the ad that are virtual are clearly marked as such.

“I think there is plenty of room for both because you want the buyer to have a certain experience when they show up at the property,” Harnish said.

If you are looking for a property and checking listings, you may want to take some extra time to check if the photo is virtually staged, or the real deal.

AI is also being used to make grass seem greener, the sky brighter on a cloudy day it can also de-clutter a countertop.

As more agents across Ontario begin to use it there will be some concerns that homes be represented accurately for buyers.   

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