Those images were “renderings of what could be built on this property" but the Vancouver Sun, and other media outlets, showed the "renderings" as the actual house for sale.
Now it's my turn to defend myself.
My colleague, George Tsavdaris and I never "faked" a listing or mislead anyone regarding our listing at 3810 Marine Drive. We never spoke to The Vancouver Sun. They did not interview us.
The media that we did speak to got the story right. The older house on Marine Drive has a special lot that can be subdivided into 3 lots. The "renderings of the castle" are pics of what could be built on this lot. CTV and Global ran the story with the overview of the existing house.
The Vancouver Sun took the story from another media sources and used the wrong pictures then they added the address on each picture. They never even spoke with us.
These rendering pictures were clearly marked on our website as just that "renderings" of what could be built. I was always quoted as saying "the value is mainly in the land".
We are consummate professionals. We would never jeprodize our reputations and/or our license.
Now you have the truth of what happened.
- Laura McLaren
Vancouver's real estate scene is facing yet another mini-scandal. First it was fake buyers, now we have a fake mansion.
The listing for 3810 Marine Drive in West Vancouver, a $37.9million mansion (only $130,958 per month!), made the papers over the weekend. The photos of the property depicted a sprawling mansion straight out of Liberace's imagination.
However, the reality is quite different. There is no mansion.
The mansion does not exist.
Realtor Laura McLaren said that the images were clearly noted as artist's renderings, but a cached version of her site seems to show otherwise. (The photo section of the listing has since been updated.)
In publishing a retraction of the mega-mansion story, the Vancouver Sun wrote,The home on the property is a rancher/bungalow built in 1964. Realtor Laura McLaren says the images on her website depicting a mansion “are renderings of what could be built on this property.”So, a mansion was just downgraded to a bungalow. That's quite a demotion. It would seem like another marketing ploy has blown up, and another real estate professional is forced to remove egg from face... but there's more going on here.
We want to believe
Couldn't the Vancouver Sun have just gone and looked for themselves? If I ran the real estate section of a major newspaper and caught wind of a $38 million mansion that looked like a Siegfried and Roy summer home, I'd grab my camera and go.
After all, those mega-mansion images are clearly not photographs, and even a casual look at Google Maps shows no evidence of a mega-mansion. Why, then, are we so eager to believe?
How can we look at a $38 million listing and not even question why the broker didn't take actual photos of such an opulent mansion, if such a home truly existed? (Let's leave aside the other obvious question: Why, when coming up with a ficitonal mansion, would you want it to look so ugly?)
I'd argue that it's because we love a good story, especially one that fits with the pre-existing narrative of Vancouver's utterly-insane real estate market. We can hold up the mega-mansion and yell, "See?!" A $38 million eyesore is quite convenient in that sense.
So, can we call Laura McLaren a fibber? No. No, we really can't. However, we can try to dial down our own credulousness in the future.
If you're marketing a property whose key selling feature is the fact it can be sub-divided into three properties, wouldn't your "artist renderings" be more suited to capturing this feature? Why use a gaudy, Versailles-style mansion to promote what could be done with the property?
Update: Business in Vancouver follows up on story.
BIV notes that
The story first appeared in the North Shore News on February 18 about a house listed for $38 million, accompanied by a photo of the real house, a sprawling rancher-style suburban home.As we noted in the original post, the main page of the website gave no indication that the photos were renderings. When you clicked on the listing, the summary page showed thumbnail photos and gave no indication of the fact these photos were "renderings".
The fake photos went viral when the story was picked up by the Vancouver Sun, who added a photo gallery showing gilt-covered rooms in the style of Louis XVI and the opulent exterior of the house, taken from the realtor’s website.
The paper neglected to say that the images were photo illustrations. On February 25, the Sun published a correction, and the story has now been removed from its website.
But by then, the story had been picked up by the U.K.’s Daily Mail, who published the photos on its website under the headline: “The $38 million Vancouver mansion that is Canada's most expensive home and also one of its ugliest too.”
Realtor Laura McLaren said the blogger is wrong and that the photos on her site, which have now all been removed apart from the external shot (pictured above), were always identified as photo renderings of "what could be built on this property."
“The pictures are renderings and you can see that they’re renderings … Each picture had ‘these are renderings,’” said McLaren.
Clearly the media did not get the message that they were "renderings".
Nor was there any statement on the agent's site by February 26th that the widespread media errors were incorrect.
Ms. McLaren has now made it clear what those images are, and that the media misconstrued what they were. The misconceptions the press had have been corrected.
We salute Ms McLaren for addressing this issue promptly and setting the record straight, which is the main thing.
Now the question becomes how did the Vancouver Sun get the North Shore News story of February 18th so wrong? How we go from a story about "a house listed listed for $38 million, accompanied by a photo of the real house" to the story the Vancouver Sun ran on February 23rd?
Hopefully those two newspapers, the Sun in particular, can answer these questions for us.
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