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Over the last five years customer rating and reviews sites have exploded onto the scene as a major force in the buying and decision making process for consumers. From sites built around reviews like Yelp, to internet yellow pages (IYP's) which have incorporated them as an important feature, online reviews abound and consumers are using them to decide where to buy.

Much has been said about the good and evil of rating & review sites which often struggle to balance the interests of the businesses being reviewed, the users leaving the reviews, and their own financial interests. No matter how you feel about these sites it's clear they are here to stay and affecting the businesses being reviewed. It's not uncommon to see sites like Yelp ranking on the first page for searches on company names, or to see reviews from multiple sites aggregated in the search results of Google Maps.

Property management ratings on Yahoo Local

Every industry has a unique set of dynamics that influence the average customer sentiment, and while we had a pretty strong hunch of how property managers fare on these sites, we decided to do the research required to get some more concrete data.

We decided to use Yahoo Local as our source for reviews because of it's size and reputation as one of the largest, longest standing sites in this space. We surveyed their reviews for property management companies in the following cities:

  • Austin
  • Atlanta
  • Boston
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Indianapolis
  • New York
  • Orlando
  • Phoenix
  • Portland
  • San Francisco
  • St. Louis
  • Tampa

Of the +15,000 property management companies listed in these cities, roughly 7% had reviews. These 1,022 companies had a total of 2,118 reviews which we used to generate the following charts:

Yahoo Local's ratings and reviews for property management companies

Breakout of property management company ratings on Yahoo LocalBreakout of property management company reviews on Yahoo Local

*Note: Reviewers can only rate with whole stars but average company ratings are calculated using half stars.

As you can see there is a very strong polarization with 90% of all reviews being either 1 or 5 stars. The average company rating further validates this strong trend of highly polarized sentiment toward property management companies.

Because of the anecdotal research we had done in the past, we were prepared to find polarization, but we were still surprised to see just how strong it was.

The stark nature of these results piqued our interest in understanding how they would compare against another review site, as well as how these ratings for property management companies would compare to other industries.

Comparing Yahoo Local to Yelp

We chose to look at Yelp because they are a well known platform built around online reviews and claim to have a filtering mechanism that weeds out fake/fraudulent user reviews. We wanted to see how this would impact the reviews compared to Yahoo Local which is much less aggressive in filtering their review results. In addition, Yelp has provided benchmarks for the average distribution of reviews on their platform across all industries and business types.

We looked at the ratings for property management companies in the same 13 cities which yielded 840 reviews from 208 companies. While the average number of reviews per company is considerably higher on Yelp (4 per company on Yelp vs 2 per company on Yahoo Local), the overall number of property management companies reviewed was about a fifth of what was on Yahoo Local in the same geography. This is at least in part because of the more aggressive review filtering mechanism Yelp uses.

Yelp's ratings and reviews for property management companies

Breakout of property management company ratings on YelpBreakout of property management company reviews on Yelp

*Note: Reviewers can only rate with whole stars but average company ratings are calculated using half stars.

The reviews on Yelp were more balanced than Yahoo Local, but the strong polarization towards 1 and 5 star reviews is still clear. It becomes even more clear when we compare the reviews we collected from Yahoo Local and Yelp specifically for property management companies vs the reviews from Yelp across all industries and business types.

Comparison of review counts for Yelp sitewide with property  management company reviews

Average # of stars given:

  • Yahoo Local (Property management companies only)
    • 2.2 stars
  • Yelp (Property management companies only)
    • 2.7 stars
  • Yelp  (Across all industries and business types)
    • 3.8 stars
  • BazaarVoice Rating Service (Across all industries and business types)
    • 4.3 stars

Clearly online reviews for property management companies are far more polarized than other industries. Tomorrow we will be posting a follow up post on some more of what we found in surveying these reviews as well as our thoughts on what specific industry dynamics cause this polarization.

What do you think about these results?

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