Surveying 3,000 Property Management Reviews - Love, hate, and little inbetween

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with Manage My Property

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?

Originally posted on managemyproperty.com under, "Surveying 3,000 Property Management Reviews"

Comments (9)

Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA
LandlordWhisperer

A year or so ago, Bob Machado provided a letter he posts on Google and Yahoo sites where there are reviews of his company * very good and an excellent way to counter unfavorable reviews * from owners and tenants.  I have actually gotten owner/clients BECAUSE of the poor tenant reviews indicating I wanted them to read their lease AND abide by the terms * like PAY YOUR RENT.

May 07, 2010 10:27 AM
Jordan Muela
Manage My Property - Austin, TX
Manage My Property

Wow, that is quite the story about getting clients from the bad reviews tenants left about tight rent controls, but it makes sense. Responding to reviews is definetly a best practice so long as it is done in a tactful and sincere way.

May 07, 2010 03:50 PM
Robert Machado
HomePointe Property Management, CRMC - Sacramento, CA
CPM MPM - Property Manager and Property Management

The ability of disguntled tenants and owners to go online in our business is very frustrating.  We are in the middle of a tense situation where a owner wants the rent and to conserve resources.  The tenant may have problems getting rent in on time and may well want lots of customer service.  They are at odds and the property manager is stuck in the middle.

Our business rejects around 100 people a month from renting from us.  Times that by 12 months and you get a lot more people mad at our business.

May 07, 2010 03:56 PM
Jordan Muela
Manage My Property - Austin, TX
Manage My Property

Robert, I totally aggree. Any industry where the vendor plays the role of enforcer (cops, soldiers, IRS) is going to harbor alot of ill will. This makes things more challenging, but it also increases the need for awareness in how to handle these situations in a proactive professional manner rather than taking it personally or trying to ignore it. I will be exploring some of these themes more in the coming days.

May 07, 2010 04:03 PM
Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA
LandlordWhisperer

It may be time for Bob to re-blog/re-post his GREAT letter that he posted previously on his firm's online reviews.  Great pro-active explanation of our job which is NOT the same as a sales/real estate agent's duty to clients AND customers!!!  They are often confused.

May 09, 2010 12:24 AM
Diane Rice
Rice Prprty Mgmnt & Rlty, LLC, South Holland, IL - Lansing, IL
SFR, SRES, CNC

Tenants are NOT in the position to judge correctly... they are RENTERS!  They would rate us with a big fat "B"  ---- and that does NOT stand for "Broker... nor Business!!  We inform new clients-to-be in the beginning that we will NOT baby-sit the children they have acquired.... oh well... NEXT!

Like Bob and Wallace, we too turn down many tenants AND owners too!

May 15, 2010 12:44 PM
Michelle Francis
Tim Francis Realty LLC - Atlanta, GA
Realtor, Buckhead Atlanta Homes for Sale & Lease

Jordan, 

Thanks for sharing.  I like referrals.  We get them from Owners, and interestingly from Tenants!  You can't make everyone happy, it just isn't possible.  I can live with that.  

All the best, Michelle

May 15, 2010 03:20 PM
Jordan Muela
Manage My Property - Austin, TX
Manage My Property

@Diane - I totally agree, and yet, they can and do post reviews that can influence an MC's rep which does neccesitate having a strategy to deal with them. I'll be covering this soon.

@Michelle - That's awesome to hear that owners have actually read the tenants reviews and been able to see what's really going on.

May 17, 2010 09:59 AM
Tracy Lee Parker
RE/MAX Heritage/PLATINUM PROPERTIES & MANAGEMENT - Royse City, TX
Buy*Sell*Lease

I am going to check out my area, I did not know about this. 

Aug 12, 2010 07:16 AM