When renters begin the search for an apartment rental, the internet is typically the first place they turn. Few individuals are willing to sign a lease without researching the building, management company, or landlord—and with good reason. However, it is all too easy to be overwhelmed by the volume of reviews on the internet, making it difficult to know which reviews to focus on.
This article will focus on teaching renters how to read apartment reviews and separate the extreme reviews from those that provide genuinely helpful feedback on the community. In using discernment when reading reviews, you will have a far easier time finding a place to live with a management company you trust.
What makes a good review?
When considering what makes a good review, consider the information the individual provides. The review may only be three or four stars rather than five, but it might also provide a wealth of information that answers key questions an apartment hunter may have. Several review sites, such as Yelp, have a search bar that allows users to search for certain keywords. For example, if you are trying to learn more about the building staff, searching “management staff” may help filter the reviews to those focusing on the staff. When going through reviews, it is helpful to look for answers to the following:
Are residents satisfied with the maintenance staff?
It is always helpful to gather information from reviews regarding staff hours, responsiveness, level of support, and any other experiences previous or current renters provide.
Are service requests completed in a timely manner?
It is also helpful to read about tenants’ experiences with repairs and service requests in the building in the event that something in your apartment needs to be repaired.
Is the management staff helpful and accommodating to tenants?
If you have already toured the apartment, you may have interacted with the management staff already. If you have yet to visit the building, finding reviews related to the management staff will help provide guidance on how to prepare for the rental application process and will describe the level of help and support provided by the management staff.
Is the area around the property consistently well maintained?
Several review sites allow users to upload pictures to go along with their reviews. Finding reviews with photos may provide a more accurate depiction as to what the grounds look like beyond the images provided on the building’s website.
Does management continue to update and upgrade the community?
In addition to finding information related to the amenity areas, it is also helpful to look for information regarding community events or activities provided by the building. For example, buildings with common areas may have events for children or other activities for tenants to get to know one another.
The review may only be three or four stars rather than five, but it might also provide a wealth of information that answers key questions an apartment hunter may have.
Tips for Sorting Through Reviews
1. Study the timeline
When reading reviews, it is best to focus on information renters have posted within the last year or two. Buildings change frequently, so renters may have written details about amenities, management staff, or other aspects of the building that no longer apply. For example, perhaps negative reviews about the elevators were posted three years ago, but positive reviews have surfaced over the past few months. If that is the case, it is possible that the building took the elevator reviews into consideration and made the changes necessary.
2. Consider how management responds
The best way to assess the way management treats their renters is to read the way they respond to reviews. Do they seem defensive? Do they take necessary measures to rectify negative situations? Are they caring and willing to help tenants? Alternatively, if the management staff doesn’t respond to reviewers’ questions or concerns at all, that could be an indication that they are not responsive in other ways. Or, if they don’t take the time to respond to tenants’ feedback, that may mean they are understaffed and don’t have time to do so.
3. Vote on helpful reviews
Several review sites allow users to ‘like’ or ‘vote’ for reviews they found most helpful. On Yelp, users can designate reviews as ‘useful,’ ‘funny,’ or ‘cool.’ On Google, users can ‘like’ reviews. When reading through reviews, it is helpful to view those that others found helpful and use that as a guide in the review process.
Why Is It Important to Filter Reviews?
According to a study completed by Cornell University’s SC Johnson College of Business, there are far more positive reviews online than negative ones. For that reason, individuals tend to value negative reviews more than those that are positive. Negative reviews can be considered a window into what could go wrong while living in an apartment building.
However, most negative reviews are written in the heat of the moment and should be considered within the broader context of the situation. Do most people provide positive reviews about the fitness center, but one person decided it wasn’t clean enough for them and chose to write a negative review? According to a New York Times interview with University of Pennsylvania professor Eric K. Clemons, people who have extreme emotions about something are far more likely to write reviews, which is why reviews tend to range from overly enthusiastic to extremely negative.
For the rising number of renters who rely on the internet when beginning an apartment search, it is expected and encouraged to read renters’ reviews about a building or management company. In addition to reviewing the information provided by current or former renters, it is equally as important to read through reviews with a critical lens, being mindful of the context in which the review was written as well as the time-frame when the information was posted.
At Draper and Kramer, we take pride in our luxury properties and always seek to provide the highest quality of living for our residents. We respond to our residents’ requests as quickly as possible and are eager to address any questions, concerns, or feedback they may have regarding our apartments. To read resident reviews of our portfolio of luxury apartments, we invite you to visit our Facebook, Google, and Yelp pages.