Fake reviews are becoming a growing problem within the multifamily housing industry. Online, it’s terribly easy to leave a fake positive or negative review, and extremely difficult to get any reviews erased. Whether the apartment review is from a lying, former tenant or a professional fake reviewer, here’s why you should be responding to them all.
Reviews: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Let’s face it—it takes a lot for all of us to write an online review, and the primary motivator is usually negative. Your residents are no exception. From a former employee with a vendetta against your community to an evicted resident spreading misinformation, fake apartment reviews oftentimes aim to ruin your reputation.
While choosing to ignore online reviews all-together can seem like the easier choice, apartment reviews are crucial to obtaining new residents. A multifamily study by J Turner Research showed that:
- 70% of the people studied decided to visit a property with a higher reputation score
- 73% said reviews affected their decision to rent
- 89% said they used review sites to narrow down their search and make a final selection
This makes responding to reviews, even the bad and down-right ugly, unavoidable.
You Gain More by Responding to Fake Apartment Reviews
While some apartment websites allow you to flag and eventually remove fake reviews, the standards for removing a review is not universal. While you might get a little more leeway with Facebook reviews, Google makes it a lot more difficult to get reviews revoked. Things can get especially tricky if a reviewer goes by a fake name. Rather than fighting every fake review you get, you actually gain more by responding.
A case study by Location3 showed that businesses with the highest response rate (8.13%) saw an average conversion rate of 13.86%.
For many apartment hunters, it’s more about if and how the property responds than the review itself. Depending on how you respond, you can easily invalidate a review through your response alone. Keep in mind, the fake reviewer has to convince the reader that their story is true too. If they use an obvious fake name or use bad grammar in their apartment review, the believability of their review declines.
Although it’s good to set goals for yourself and your team, it’s not always about achieving that 5-star rating. Potential applicants understand that no community is perfect – and might actually want to see some diverse reviews. In fact, a 2015 study showed that 94% of consumers will use a business with a 4-star rating. According to Northwestern University, the ideal average star rating is between 4.2 and 4.5.
While you should always be encouraging your residents to write an online apartment review (pro tip: ask after they’re happily moved-in), expect to get some negative and fake reviews in the mix. Rather than attempting to delete all the fake reviews your community receives, flag the ones that are the most harmful and respond professionally and openly to the rest. Remember that your responses might be one of the first things a potential applicant sees before they even contact you, and cater your response more to the reader than the reviewer.
Have you received fake apartment reviews? How did you handle the review?
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