Sometimes it feels as though a bad review can be the beginning of the end for a property. Receiving a negative Yelp review or bad feedback on Facebook may be a property manager’s nightmare—but there are worse things than a bad review.
A majority of prospective buyers will look at ratings and reviews as initial qualifiers according to J Turner Research. Purchasing anything is a gamble, whether it is a sweater online or a car. A smart consumer will put in the work to thoroughly research the product they are considering. And they will take time to think about how valid a review is before applying it to their opinion of a property because not all reviews are equal.
Property managers may believe that generating as much positive content about their residency as possible may be the best way to deal with reviews, but this theory has not mirrored the data collected on the subject. A study titled Highly Recommended: The Influence and Impact of Online Ratings and Reviews on Apartment Searcher, sponsored by Apartment Guide revealed that most renters ages 25-44 stated they wanted to see at least 11 reviews before proceeding with their search and 86.2% of consumers would consider a property with a few bad reviews. Meaning that it is not just quality that matters.
The rise of social communication and platforms like Yelp and Apartmentratings.com means that the more volume coming from the residents of your property the better. Apartment Guide’s study stated that most renters stated that they consulted online reviews while searching for a new apartment. Also, several participants said that positive reviews were a staple when coming to a decision on housing.
However, if a property only has two or three reviews, and all are positive, it may lead to renters becoming suspicious of the reviews. Property managers need to be wary of anonymous reviews, which has become a problem for several companies, including Amazon, where consumers have been misled by positive reviews that were either fake or paid for. Reviews like these can negatively affect a property’s reputation. Consumers are more likely to trust a review that has been certified by the property or if the reviewer had connected to the reviewing site through social media. J Turner Research’s found that trustworthy reviews has been a larger factor in prospective renter’s decision in recent years.
Meanwhile, it is important to remember the negative effects a bad review can have on a property and how reliance on online reviews is on the rise in an increasingly digital world. And while positive reviews need to have verification to be trusted by a prospective renter, an anonymous negative review can do just as much damage as a certified one. Anonymous or not, bad press can still hurt your chances of getting more renters through the door. The key to navigating bad reviews is to respond to them; this shows that the property manager is open to communicating with residents and willing to problem solve.
Having several trusted reviews and responding to negative feedback is the key to getting new renters through the door. Whether they are negative or positive, it is important to understand that having a variety of reviews is better than having none. Consumers tend to be wary of products that have not been rated.
While addressing reviews is important, finding ways to get residents to write reviews should never be pushed to the back burner. The best way to foster reviews is to provide great service, rather than pushing tenants to the online forums. It is important for residents to know where to post their reviews, but allow them to be inspired to write one from the direct effect of your service.