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Navigating Online Reviews

If you are like 89% of all renters, checking out an apartment community’s ratings and reviews is a major part of your apartment hunt. Seeing what other residents think of the apartment community can give you great insight into what it’s like to live there, but how do you know how reliable they are?

Knowing what to look for when reading reviews will help you get the most out of them, so we’ve put together a list of thing you’ll want to be sure to look for when reading online reviews!
  1. The Date


You’ve been on an exhaustive hunt for your new home and you think you’ve finally found the perfect one. It offers plenty of natural light for your plant babies, it’s a 10-minute commute to work and the fitness center is the stuff of dreams. Before you commit and sign the lease, you decide to check out some online reviews. Most of the reviews are reassuring you that you’ve made a great decision, when you come across one that warns “Don’t rent here. Worst decision I ever made!”. You start to question whether this is the right place for you. Before you make the decision to jump ship on your new pad, check the date of the review. While an older review can still provide insight, things may have changed since it was posted. Maybe the property is under new management, or its undergone renovations. These changes likely wouldn’t be reflected in an older review, so keep that in mind when reading older reviews.
  1. The Motives

Even if that review cautioning you away from your dream home is recent, think about the reviewer’s motives. Reviewers are often motivated by extreme feelings, either positive or negative. When everything is fine, people are less likely to write a review. This is true regardless of the industry – restaurants, hotels, etc. If a negative review seems vindictive, take it with a grain of salt, especially if all the other reviews are more positive. This reviewer likely just wanted to vent, and their experience won’t necessarily be your experience.
  1. The Star Rating

Because most reviewers are motivated by extreme emotions, it is very common to see reviews at the low or high end of the star rating (1 out of 5 or 5 out of 5). Oftentimes, the reviews in the middle (the 3 and 4-star reviews) tend to be more detailed and objective. While you’ll want to read the reviews when looking at apartments (at least the most recent ones), you’ll likely gain more insight from the reviews in the middle.
  1. The Manager’s Response
You can tell a lot about the level of service you will receive and how engaged and responsive your property manager will be by the response to the review. When reading the responses from the manager, you’ll want to look for the following:
  • Did they respond at all? A lack of response to a review can sometimes say more than the review itself.
  • Were they genuinely appreciative of the review? A good property manager should be thankful for all reviews, good or bad, and should take the opportunity to thank everyone who is willing to provide helpful feedback.
  • If there was an issue mentioned, did the manager acknowledge it frankly? Issues don’t get resolved by being ignored, and a good property manager will acknowledge the issue without pointing fingers or getting defensive.
  • If there were issues mentioned, did the manager share how they planned to address them or attempt to have the reviewer get in touch to share more details?
 
As you read reviews, a clear picture will begin to emerge about the apartment community. The things residents truly enjoy will become clear, since those things will likely be mentioned by multiple reviewers, and you’ll feel better knowing what you can expect your experience living in the community to be like.