Home Real Estate With real estate, what you see is what you get. Well …

With real estate, what you see is what you get. Well …

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But the boundaries between enhancing reality and bending it all together can quickly get blurrier than a comically careless listing photo. One condo I toured had a lovely, but purely decorative fireplace — which came as a surprise, since the online photos showed the flickering flames of a well-stoked blaze burning in the hearth.

That kind of trickery crosses an important line, said Michelle Amazeen, associate professor and director of the Communication Research Center at Boston University. According to Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, Amazeen said, “Something is deceptive if it involves a representation, omission, or practice that is likely to mislead reasonable consumers” — and if that representation or omission is of material concern to the consumer.

“So you’re looking for an apartment. You see in the marketing materials, ‘Oh look, there’s a fireplace, and it works; there are flames in it.’ Any reasonable consumer would…

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