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Brent Williams' Apartment Blog

Thoughts, comments, and ideas about the overall multifamily industry, as well as a property-specific focus on resident retention and apartment marketing.

Apartment Ratings, SatisFacts, and How This News Could Change the Multifamily Industry

For a long time, our industry has been in need of a reputational face lift.  From fighting the illusion of the “American Dream” to crime reporting that unfairly compares apartment living relative to single family housing, our industry has been constantly placed in a negative light relative to home ownership.  Adding to that reputational stigma was the always-frustrating Apartment Ratings that historically seemed more than content to let negative reviews flourish and fester, showing not just one community as a bad place to live, but casting a shadow over our entire industry in the process.

For a long time, Apartment Ratings has been the dominant force when it comes to reviews of apartment communities, so when the site is overwhelmingly negative, it serves as a giant anti-marketing campaign for multifamily.  Essentially, the largest unbiased source of reviews is telling America that apartment living isn’t all that great.  Even if apartment prospects mentally adjust the reviews in anticipation of it being negatively biased, which I believe they do, it still affects their anticipated satisfaction level with apartment living as a whole.  No matter how much adjusting one does to account for the negative bias, an average score stuck on the south side of 50% harms the industry as a whole.

But that was then, and this is now.  Apartment Ratings has recently made some very positive moves to engage with the industry and present a more balanced view within their ratings database.  Within that strategy, the parent company of Apartment Ratings, Internet Brands, recently purchased one of the most respected companies in the multifamily realm, SatisFacts Research, and in doing so, promises to pull reviews from SatisFacts directly into the Apartment Ratings database.  Considering that the SatisFacts Index for the percent of residents that would recommend their community currently stands at 84%, the inclusion of these ratings will dramatically “balance” the reviews on Apartment Ratings.  Additionally, new players in the industry, such as Renter’s Voice and ApartmentGrade, have joined in the effort to provide a more realistic view of apartment community ratings.  In other words, the steps that Internet Brands, along with other newcomers to the field, are taking to provide a more balanced view of apartment ratings and reviews will boost the “rating” of the entire industry, as well. 

So while many of you still have a gut response of hating Apartment Ratings, it might be beneficial to start seeing this as the first step in a revolution for the apartment industry’s reputation.

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I for one am super happy about this integration. Our company is fairly new to Satisfacts, but have had an excellent experience, especially with Joe. The feedback we are receiving, both positive and negative is definitely helping us guide our business in a positive direction. Apartmentratings has often been a thorn in our side. Although we always welcome both negative and positive feedback, I would say 80% of the posters were disgruntled for a reason they initiated (breaking a lease and not wanting to pay a fee, etc) I read in one of your other blogs that people would post positive comments if they were simply asked to, but I don't even think this is always an effective method. Before joining Satisfacts program, if we received positive feedback we always asked residents to post their satisfaction onto Apartment Ratings, but they rarely followed through. We are, however, getting a great response through the surveys with Satisfacts, and I think it's just the simplicity of it sitting right in their inbox. I am excited that some of our positive reviews will be shared and am looking forward to the integration!

  Shelly Mulder

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When a community’s ratings and reputation is struggling, it can be incredibly challenging to pull those ratings back from the brink, all while not having the team get discouraged along the way. And for those communities that are already doing well on that front, how are they proactive about getting resident feedback before that feedback turns into negative reviews? These are two of my favorite parts of my interview with Danielle Johnson, Vice President of Marketing and Training at Bridge Propert...
  These circumstances have you questioning the importance of online reputation. Does it really influence your prospects? And should you be concerned with negative reviews?  These are legit questions, and they are all going to be answered in this post.  How Much Do People Trust Online Reviews? Word of mouth marketing (WOMM) is still one of the best forms of advertising. People will believe in a recommendation over any kind of advertising.  The internet opened the doors to a n...
You know what, I totally get it.  With all that goes on during the workday, responding to reviews is somewhere on the priority list with eating lunch.  And in this industry, we all know an hour-long lunch break is a luxury.  Responding to reviews takes time; and for property management professionals, time, just like lunch, is a luxury. In my last article, I wrote “Many think it’s easier to have a bank of ready-to-go responses, but as renters tend to read an average of 6-10 reviews...