The original photo of 2221 Baker Street:

2221 Baker Street: Exterior

The altered version that briefly made an appearance as part of the listing:

2221 Baker Street: Exterior Altered

And the obvious question, what the hell were they thinking?

Say Hello To My Little Friend Frond (And An Orchid) At 2221 Baker [SocketSite]

51 thoughts on “The Only Appropriate Headline: “What The Hell Were They Thinking?””
  1. For those of you who missed the discussion of 2221 Baker Street, the realtor had posted a photo of the front of the house, which is on a fairly steep street, that had been photoshopped to look absolutely flat.
    The cars parked in the front of the house, were tipped level by about 20 degrees, to turn a steep block (undesirable to older people who would purchase such a home with their bad knees) into a flat block. They did it by essentially slicing a pie shaped piece at and under the foundation line and then hinging the remaining lower piece until it touched the upper piece. In the process, the garage was removed entirely, but the cars in front of the house appeared to be standing flat.
    The cars remained in the photo, but parked head in to the sidewalk, which should have been a tipoff to all of us, but were now level with the foundation of the house, and so it cleary misimplied that the block was flat. Google maps doesn’t have a clear shot of the house, but mapjack does.
    After the realtor was caught lying (I’m shocked, shocked, that a realtor would actually lie!), the offending photo was removed this morning.
    [Editor’s Note: This comment along with the next eleven were moved from yesterday’s piece on MapJack.]

  2. @tipster: This is so awesome!

    I believe both photos still clone out the city parking sign in front of the house, clearly visible in the mapjack link I posted above 🙂

  3. huh…interesting – just in the time these postes were made – the agents corrected their site to remove the photoshopped pic.

  4. The sad thing is that, if you believe an earlier posting from the original thread, this is purportedly the home of the head of one of the top three real estate agencies in SF. I presume he at least looked at the photoshopped photos of his own house and didn’t object, if he didn’t approve them outright. If both these things are correct (it’s a big ‘if’: I can’t know for sure if they are), the deception went all the way to the top.
    That’s just really sad. I just assumed it was certain out of control agents, not the whole system. It really would make me question everything I see from this agency, at the very least.

  5. It is one thing to photoshop blue sky, but this whole game being played by realtors manipulating images has gotten out of control. Putting in views to windows that do not have views. Showing sunlight streaming in through the openings when in fact the unit is next to a dark 10 story wall 8 feet away, and now what Tipster shows us regarding the Baker Street listing, no wonder realtors are thought of as nothing more than overpriced used house salespeople.

  6. Jess – thanks for finding this photoshop job in the Baker st house link. I don’t have the plugged in email, but this should be its own thread.
    I would not be surprised if this agent has some issues going forward. The fact that it was changed so fast on the websites leads me to beleive the agent is well clued in…

  7. Great job jess and tipster for exposing the outright fraud, corruption, and hypocrisy of McGuire Real Estate. As has been pointed out, the owner of 2221 Baker is Charles Moore, president of McGuire Real Estate and grandson of founder Walter McGuire. It’s his house and his company and he must have personally approved the doctored photos used by his agents (Lotte Moore and Sarah Kowalcyzk).
    This is a major deception. It’s just as bad as turning back the odometer on a used car. Where are the ethics? How could they do this and not expect to get exposed? I hope the side by side photos on the shutter7 remain. They should be used as an example of crossing way over the line in a real estate ethics course (if there is such a thing).
    Again, great work in exposing this unethical activity. I wonder if Walter McGuire would approve of how his grandson is using this new technology to sell homes?

  8. For the record, we’re not all lying cheating bastards. Some of us are just as appalled at that kind of fraudulent bullshit as “regular” folks.
    It’s a pain in the ass for me to tell a client “Look, I KNOW it looks like a flat street in the photo, but trust me, you’ll lose control of your baby stroller faster than you can imagine because that hill is so steep. What? Oh… well the other Realtor was deceptive and photoshopped the photo to make it look flat. What? Oh…. well, yes – some of them out there are shady. No. Not all of us are.”
    For those of us that just want to do a damn good job for our clients and do it honestly, these kind of bullshit moves sure fo make it difficult to convince the world that everyone in the industry is NOT a lying piece of shit.
    Fellow Realtors – I know most of you play fair, but for those that don’t, can you just stop acting like dipshits and start acting like grownups? The house will sell if you don’t lie about it – I swear!
    There – I’m getting off my soapbox now.

  9. The Baker Street photo isn’t just a lie. It’s a stupid lie.
    Anyone who has any interest will either drive by the
    house or go to see it. They will see immediately
    that it’s on a steep hill. So, what’s the point? Does
    the agent say, “I guess the ground shifted” or do
    they say, “As long as we’re here, let’s take a look.”

  10. I love how this foolishness was uncovered!
    What were they thinking? Well, it just might be that they hopes to snare the elusive “foreign buyer” who just might purchase it INSTANTLY (you, before the property appreciated at the expected 1% per week).
    Or, it just might be that they weren’t thinking. Repeated exposure and interaction with appraisers, agents, brokers, lending officers, title insurance salespeople, etc. has sometimes been known to induce total loss of cognitive ability. 🙂

  11. That was totally ridiculous… There wasn’t any need to do that at all. The house looks much better (and larger) on the hill. It’s a nice house in a great neighborhood at a really good price. Why the need for deception? I’m still wondering, though, about it being sandwiched between two major, major renovations. The noise and debris will plague this property for the next three or more years.

  12. Like about half the salespeople of all types I’ve met, they were thinking of new and creative ways to screw the buyers, most of whom will not be in the market to purchase again for a long time.
    The other half are honest, ethical and hardworking, and they understand that by working hard for you, they’ll get referrals, even if you won’t be in the market any time soon.
    And there is absolutely no way to tell the ethical ones from the bad ones: they all look and sound so sincere, unless you (A) understand that there are a LOT of bad ones out there, even some who are very senior, and (B) watch them very carefully, even though they are supposed to be “your” agent.
    You have to watch them very carefully.
    And at this point, if that really was the house of the head of McGuire (I don’t know if it is or not), I think I’d think twice about buying or selling through them at all. That guy had to see the photos and it sure didn’t look like he did anything to stop them. The only reason it appears they aren’t still up is Socketsite “outing” them. If that’s the culture he is leading at McGuire, I’d just as soon stay away from anything they do.

  13. Again, we must give props to jess for first pointing this out (and leading to the most fun I’ve had on this site in a few months).

    Also note they have cloned out a city parking sign just to the left of the entrance in both photos. Check the mapjack link posted in another thread.

    fantastic! How do we know the interior photos are realistic?

    I suggest a socketsite doctoring contest — whoever submits the best doctored photo of this facade (funnier the better) has their entry featured in a socketsite post. Are the editor(s) game? 🙂

  14. Honestly, all finger-pointing and conspiracy theories aside, the house looks so much better with the hill and the street in place as it would normally be seen. Much more charm and street presence. With the hill gone and the cars level to the front of the house, they become the focal point and the house – to me – gets lost in the background. It really baffles the mind.

  15. So if you buy the “second” house, do you get a discount for losing a garage? A free Vespa, at least?

  16. I feel like this is one of those MegaTouch “Photo Hunt” games we play at the bar. Did anyone else notice that the Audi sedan parked out front has one reverse lamp colored white in photo #2 and two in photo #1?

  17. Can someone lose their real estate license for something like this?
    It is purposely misleading…
    Would this have to be disclosed, not that the buyer wouldn’t notice 😉

  18. When I see something like this… ANYTHING like this, where somebody has lied, no matter how small… I walk away. Permanently. I’ve made a mental note never to do business with Lotte Moore or Sarah Kowalczyk or to consider any property or transaction they are involved with.
    I’ve never even heard of either of these ladies before, and so the only piece of certain knowledge I have about them is that they are liars. And I’m not interested in doing business with liars.
    One could argue that it’s a small transgression, or that perhaps they didn’t know about it, blah blah blah. But I’m entitled to make my own decisions about who I do business with. Notice to realtors (and others): do something unethical like this, and people will spread the word. And there are undoubtedly plenty of others like myself out there who will permanently blacklist you, and perhaps even the agency you work for, and all of its other agents. (Do I think that the actions of these two agents reflect negatively on everyone at McGuire Real Estate? Absolutely!)
    There are plenty of honest agents out there, I’ll deal with them and the properties they represent.

  19. This is but a small example of the kind of stuff that gives realtors a bad name. Unfortunately, the honest one tend to get tarred by this as well.

  20. Do we get a pair of virtual reality gaming glasses at the front door of the open house? If not, I might remember that I parked on a hill.

    That is just for starters. They have VIOLATED the Realtor Code of Ethics and should lose their membership in the SFAR and NAR. This act is a blatent attempt to mislead the public and if Mcguire does not act by firing these agents, they are condoning this action.
    Article 12
    REALTORS® shall be honest and truthful in their real estate communications and shall present a true picture in their advertising, marketing, and other representations. …
    • Standard of Practice 12-10
    REALTORS®’ obligation to present a true picture in their advertising and representations to the public includes the URLs and domain names they use, and prohibits REALTORS® from:
    1) engaging in deceptive or unauthorized framing of real estate brokerage websites;
    2) manipulating (e.g., presenting content developed by others) listing content in any way that produces a deceptive or misleading result;…

  22. Here’s the thing. It’s not like this is their only listing. They have a nice little portfolio of exclusive properties for sale; between the two of them it puts them you are looking at around $11m in listing per person. Not too shabby. No reason to lie on this one deal.
    Oh well. The DRE is going to have a field day.

  23. “It takes only a very few deplorable agents to tarnish the entire industry.”
    There are enough deplorable agents in that industry to tarnish ten industries. When there is that much motivation (in terms of dollars) to lie, it’s going to attract a lot of very bad ones.
    I’m sure if you meet these women, you’ll find that they are just as sweet as sugar, too, with no evidence of a bad bone in their body.
    Just like good con artists. That’s what makes it essentially impossible to tell the good ones from the bad ones.
    Be very, very careful when there is that much money involved. It provides all kinds of motivations to do things you’d never even think of.
    We all saw the photoshopped photo, and even with the cars parked in the manner of a steep street, and the trees stepping up for no apparent reason, we missed it because most of us are basically honest people who can’t imagine the dirty tricks that are being played behind our backs.
    The money in this industry attracts a lot of corrupt people, and there is essentially no real oversight. The DRE could care less. McGuire? Not gonna do squat.
    Be especially cautious when dealing with people in this industry.
    BTW, they went back and AGAIN photoshopped the photo between last night and this morning. Even after all of the publicity, they couldn’t keep their hands off of it, and felt the need to alter it again. Socketsite has Version 3, not the original.
    [Editor’s Note: The version that was originally attached to the listing and once again made an appearance yesterday was the “original” above with an “enhanced” blue sky (an alteration with which we have no real qualms). We have no doubt that they’re trying to do the right thing by replacing the photo with the least altered version that they have.]

  24. What’s wrong with a little photoshopping? I do that on my photos… it works!

  25. Feel free to call foul, but we’ve unpublished a few comments that had little to do with the use of the photos above and were more along the lines of personal attacks. Come on, y’all know better (and if you don’t, take it someplace else).

  26. Are you $@#$%@! serious?! “Trying to do the right thing by replacing the photo with the least altered version that they have.”
    WOW! what do you think they are doing with the TDS? How many misrepresentations are there? And, are they counseling their clients this way too? “Oh, Mr. and Mrs. homeowner, don’t list anything negative that you know about the house, we don’t want to alarm any potential buyers.”
    The more I hear about this, the more disgusted I am. Is this a pattern with these agents?

  27. Maybe the cars just had extra tall, lopsided tires of different sizes when they were parked in front of this house to make them all level.
    By the way, I LOVE the idea of a public contest to create the most outrageous photoshop of this house!

  28. It’s one thing to lie about stuff that you can’t really see, like the hidden water damage on some wall near the foundation.
    It’s another level of weird foolishness to think that buyers can’t tell the house is on a hill.
    I mean seriously. I’m offended just at how stupid the listing agent must think I am.

  29. If this house indeed belongs to the president of McGuire, this type of deliberate effort to mislead is likely to undercut the firm as a whole. One wonders how much longer he will be president of McGuire. This is the type of thing that destroys firms. If I worked at McGuire, I would be calling other agencies and searching for a job.

  30. This story just gets better and better.
    From the McGuire website:
    Name: Charles E. Moore CEO, McGuire Real Estate
    From public records search:
    Subject Property History:
    2221 BAKER ST, SAN FRANCISCO CA 94115-1001
    Recording Date 06/21/2001
    Document Type Intrafamily Transfer or Dissolution
    So unless this is the most bizarre coincidence in the history of mankind, the CEO at McGuire Real Estate appears to be involved in this fraud.

  31. The real estate buyer is just as guilty as the real estate seller for not researching and checking up on a property, getting it professionally inspected, etc. Did the realtor ever think that he could just sell the house on the web site alone, like an ebay ad or something? Gee Honey, something seems a little off than the only photo we used to base our purchase on. The 45 degree incline is something that will PROBABLY go noticed…

  32. I would think living on a hill would be even more valuable than flat land? Definitely makes the house stand out more.

  33. “You two have really pissed off some people. You might want to read this thread, if you haven’t already:
    I wouldn’t be surprised if you both and your firm get reported to the DRE for your conduct. What you did was outright misrepresentation, which is against your profession’s code of conduct/ethics, against the law, and is disgusting behavior. You both and your firm should all be ashamed of yourselves.”

  34. There’s that little hill issue, but also, what about the garage? Didn’t they think anyone would wonder where it was? In this city of scarce parking, you’d think a seller would want to emphasize an attached garage. From a purely practical point of view (forget ethics for a moment), I’d think that the value of a house with a garage would outweigh the value of a house on a flat block. But since I’m not a real estate “professional”, maybe I’m wrong….
    Of course, maybe their assistant just got laid off and this is their revenge, or maybe one of them has a hacker teenage kid who thought this would be funny. Those are about the only scenarios that would even begin to make sense. Otherwise I’d have to agree with David above:
    “It’s another level of weird foolishness to think that buyers can’t tell the house is on a hill.
    I mean seriously. I’m offended just at how stupid the listing agent must think I am.”
    All in all, less offensive to me than plain old bizarre. Although think I’ll keep my distance from McGuire in the future….

  35. Socketsite…why is it offensive to say that realtors are starting to starve? Get your thinking cap on.

  36. SF wrote –
    “The real estate buyer is just as guilty as the real estate seller for not researching and checking up on a property”
    Not true at all. Yes any smart buyer should do research on a house, but that does not mean that they should be deliberately misled.
    Do you also believe Spitzers wife is 50% at fault for driving him to it…?

  37. Many people will not even look at a home on a very steep street like this. A lot of wealthy people are older and they find it difficult or even painful to walk up a block like this. Even if you are not older, having your kids walk up and down a steep street to school or to friends houses just gets old after a while.
    The dishonest realtors were likely trying to cover up that “flaw”, hoping more people would at least come out and look at it.
    Some garages are not visible from the street: so not being able to see the garage in the photo is not a deal killer when the listing specifies that the house includes a garage. In contrast, being on a steep block is a big deal killer for a lot of people.
    This seems to me to be a logical progression of misleading statements by realtors. How many times have we seen tiny bonus rooms advertised as second bedrooms that you can’t see until you get there, 3/4 baths with no tubs advertised as full baths that again are not shown in the photos, or touting a month to month lease on a rent controlled tenant that is essentially impossible to evict, etc.
    They just hope that the potential buyers will fall in love with the house once they see it and forget about their requirement for a flat block, bathtub, full second bedroom or whatever.

  38. Waaahhh I’m oooooold. Maybe I should live in the MARINA where it is FLAT instead of looking for a place to live in Pacific HEIGHTS or Presidio HEIGHTS. Nuff said.

  39. Went and saw it today. Nothing special, and it needs updating. I don’t think it will sell at this price.

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