There are no household names in the world of Property Management.
Anyone could rattle off a list of car manufacturers, television brands, or even local real estate companies.
But, Property Management is different.
And that can make finding a quality Property Management company difficult.
If you are like most people, unless you receive a trusted referral, you’ll take to the internet to learn about different Property Management companies, paying special attention to not only fees and services, but also to online reviews.
They absolutely sway opinions.
But they can also be confusing.
And yes, they can also be fake.
Today I thought I would spend some time discussing what to look for when reading various online reviews about Indianapolis Property Management companies.
Indianapolis Property Management Reviews: Overview
Property Managers are particularly susceptible to bad reviews. We have two different sets of customers (Owners and Tenants) that can sometimes have opposite goals. So, when a difficult situation arises, an eviction, for example, at least one, if not both parties, can become upset.
And some of these people are perfectly willing to share and even embellish the bad experience with the world. Because, as we all know, people are much more willing to share a bad experience than to share a good experience.
Fourandhalf is a marketing company that works exclusively with Property Management companies throughout the world on their marketing efforts. And part of Fourandhalf's product offering is online review management.
Fourandhalf has done extensive research and blogging on the impact and importance of online reviews as they relate to PM companies.
So, obviously, reviews are a big deal in our industry, as both Tenants and Owners will leave them.
Tenant Reviews of Indianapolis Property Management Companies
As you may know, Tenants make up the majority of online reviews concerning PM companies. Most of them, as you might have guessed, tend to be negative.
Tenants can get upset for a variety of reasons: when their application isn’t chosen, when they are charged for maintenance, or when they are evicted.
But, the biggest source of negative reviews is related to security deposits. In some cases, Tenants want every dime back and will take to the internet when they don’t get it.
Indiana, frankly, has done a terrible job of defining "normal wear & tear" which creates confusion and inconsistencies on how PM's choose to allocate security deposit funds.
For example, one PM may use 2 years as a "normal" expectancy for paint, while another may use 3 years or longer.
To further complicate matters, Owners generally want to use as much of the security deposit as possible and Tenants generally want all their deposit back. So, conflict can easily ensue, even if the PM is explicit and consistent with Tenants on what the security deposit should cover.
When reading thru Tenant-written reviews, be sure to take note of the reason for the complaint. In many cases, poor Tenant reviews HELP Property Management companies, because they can show that the PM company is looking out for the best interest of their client - the Owner. However, too many negative Tenant reviews - especially ones that concern a lack of communication or poor maintenance practices - can be cause for concern.
Bottom line: Take Tenant reviews with a grain of salt.
Owner Reviews of Indianapolis Property Management Companies
Owner reviews, in my opinion, generally carry more weight, particularly if you are an Owner considering a particular Property Management company. Like Tenant reviews, there are a number of reasons Owners may choose to leave negative reviews: poor communication, numerous evictions, and general mis-management of the property.
There's no single PM company out there that can please every single Owner. And, if you are in our industry long enough, you'll get a negative Owner review. It's going to happen.
What you should concern yourself with is consistent trends... good or bad. If you consistently see reviews that bemoan the Management Companies communication, or that the PM failed to provide sufficient documentation, etc., you should be concerned.
But, don't let a single bad review, or two, necessarily dissuade you... particularly if the company has been in business for a significant amount of time.
When looking through Property Management companies on Google, you may be drawn in by a 5-Star rating. You see a couple positive reviews, and you decide to call. But, I urge you to take another gander.
Believe it or not, there are a LOT of companies, in all industries, that pay for fake reviews. At first glance, you may not be able to see anything out of the ordinary, but if you look just a little closer, you'll surely be able to see through the facade.
Looking at this first example, you'll notice a few similar patterns. First, every review is for a PM company in a different state. Now, it's possible that this individual has properties in multiple areas of the country, we can give him the benefit of the doubt there. But the second thing you'll notice is all of the reviews were written around the exact same time. This is a HUGE red flag.
In this next example, you'll notice the same thing, except we included reviews of other businesses. This is a sure fire way to prove a review is fake. I think it's highly unlikely that this individual was in Indianapolis, Oklahoma, California, and Maine all within the same month. Especially given what the reviews were for.
We have never, nor ever will, pay for fake reviews. Not only is it totally against our core beliefs as a business, but the ramifications can be disastrous. If Google, for example, determines that a company is using fake reviews, they can not only delete the reviews but they can also blacklist the company as well. Which, essentially means the company will no longer exist in Google's search engines.
Obviously, that's devastating. It's unethical. It's not worth the risk. And yes, PM companies right here in Indianapolis are paying for fake reviews.
Google vs. Yelp
A trend I've noticed is that a lot of our West Coast leads find us on Yelp. Everywhere else in the Country, and the world, for that matter, prospects find us on Google.
Another key item I've noticed is that Yelp, and I have no specific evidence for this, does a better job of removing fake reviews. So, while you may not generally use Yelp, I think you might get a better feeling for a company by reading their Yelp reviews.
I've witnessed, first hand, a local competitor of ours receive several Yelp reviews within a short period of time, only to find them all removed a short time later.
Indianapolis Property Management Reviews: Conclusion
Again, reviews matter. When researching various PM companies, you should absolutely take into account online reviews when making your decision.
However, also realize that not all bad reviews are actually bad, some reviews are fake and, if you're researching an experienced Company, you'll always encounter some negative reviews.