Apartments and Rating Review Sites

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 9.24.36 AMOur population is addicted to reviews.  Yelp, Google, Angie’s List and Amazon are all heavy hitters that affect business or product reputations. Apartment hunting is no exception.
As with any business, an online apartment review is only part of the equation.  Camden has an entire site dedicated to the interaction between our customers and the results achieved by sincere feedback. This page is called Voice of the Customer. Our best ideas, amenities and policies are born from feedback from our customers.  Reviews offer transparency to a small portion of their reputation.  It often deserves a better look.
Things to Consider:
  • Apartment quality, price and experience can vary greatly in any market.
  • People are far more likely to voice their opinion in the heat of a bad experience, misunderstanding or irritation. Since reviews can be written in the moment, the problem may be resolved and the reviewer may not have been able to log in to change his/her opinion. Have you ever signed up for an emailed newsletter and could never figure out how to un-subscribe because you couldn’t remember the log-in credentials?
  • Unlike Amazon,  apartment ratings have historically been based on bad reviews from people searching out places to voice their frustration.  Only in the last couple of years have rental companies sought out reviews and asked for public feedback.
  • No one will ever live anywhere without having problems of some sort. Homeowners deal with many of the same problems renters have.  Repair delays can be a reality in the best places to live.  Quirks, unavailable parts and similar repair situations can be as frustrating for the owner/manager, a homeowner or a renter all the same.
Apartment rating sites can also be a great source of good information when apartment hunting.   Look at the overall experience throughout all of the reviews.   When looking at reviews try to consider the reasoning behind the review.  People expect to be happy with their rental experience therefore they don’t feel obligated to report an expected experience.  People sometimes complain and focus on things that are very typical for multi-family living:  parking is insufficient, noise can be heard from other apartments, they have bugs on their patio and their rent went up. Other times, people can be angry because they were charged a late fee, had an unauthorized pet, occupant, or liked to grill on their balcony.
Who writes the reviews on apartments?
  • People who have been asked to rate them.
  • People who are angry about an outcome they can’t change.
  • Long-time customers who became aware of an outlandish negative review and wanted to set the record straight.
  • People with limited experience in apartments and housing responsibilities.
  • Someone experiencing unexpected regional differences in apartments (scorpions in the desert, large water bug in the south).
  • Someone angry about something else in their life.
  • Someone having a bad experience.
  • Someone who has been ignored or invalidated by the staff.
  • Someone who tried to be reasonable but had one too many bad experiences.

review wordsSome signs the apartment review might be emotionally charged and could be biased:

  • The reviewer names people in an inappropriate manner. “The manager (named) needs to get a life”.
  • The reviewer has a laundry list of complaints. This can indicate they are unloading anything and everything.
  • The reviewer talks about how long they have lived there and for some reason they are now mad about something. ” I have lived here three years and the new management company is terrible”. It could mean the new management is enforcing a rule that had not been enforced previously.
  • The story cannot be confirmed. Crime can usually be confirmed online or by inquiring with the police department.
  • Security deposit complaints and rental rate increases are often the most debated issue.
  • A lone review (good or bad) without any other corroborating experiences.
Other Resources:
  • Local news station online. Search the name of the community to see what comes up. 
  • Social media:  It’s a good sign when you visit a Facebook page for a community and see a consistent amount of posts, resident functions, various communications and equal involvement by customers or vendors.  It often means management is focused on people and communication. You might see post about resident functions followed up with photos from that event. You might even see communications to the residents about dates and times of pest control or water being turned off on a building at a specific time. 
Do your own review when you visit an apartment community.
  • Are common areas clean?
  • Are the lawns and common area flower beds neatly manicured?
  • In the winter months is the pool kept clean and free of fallen leaves? This could tell a lot about the mind-set of the maintenance team. Be more forgiving if there are seasonal trees surrounding the pool.
  • Call first to gauge their phone mannerisms.  See if they invite you for a visit.
  • Consider engaging in conversation with current customers.
  • If you are interested in a community as a serious contender, but see a post that is concerning, ask management about the review.  Start a dialogue to better understand how the communities respond to inquiries.

Never assume an apartment review is the whole story.  Even the best community could have a negative apartment review.  Use your best judgement when apartment hunting.  Do a little more digging when it seems like a good fit. Lastly, don’t let one persons opinion keep you from a great experience.

 

 

3 thoughts

  1. Simply put, I feel at home here. Another year has flown by and I find myself still enjoying where I live. I have experienced great neighbors and excellent customer service. I have been at Camden Reunion for 6 years and currently have no plans to leave. You see, I have lived here through the changing of the office and maintenance staff. Regardless of the changes, I have always been extremely pleased with the service. Since 2009, I have benefited from the addition of a business center, upgrades to Time Warner Cable, new propane grills at the pool and throughout the community and valet trash service. The valet trash service took a little getting used to but I soon grew to enjoy it because it alleviated the need to take my trash up front to the dumpster. There are many conveniences in apartment living that Camden has provided me and I am grateful. I even won a ceiling fan! How cool is that? I would hope that everyone’s experience can be this enjoyable. Thank you Camden.

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