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  • Writer's pictureRealFacts Editorial Team

Staff matters in real estate, new survey of 400,000 online reviews says


Staff

A recent survey of 400,000 online reviews has underscored the critical importance of on-site staff in shaping tenant experiences and property reputations. Conducted by Burlington, Vermont-based reputation management firm Widewail, the AI-powered analysis reveals that more than 60% of positive reviews for multifamily properties highlight the commendable efforts of on-site teams. Conversely, while staff issues are less frequently cited in negative reviews, they still feature prominently, accounting for 18% of such feedback.


Key Findings from Positive Reviews


In a detailed examination of tenant feedback from the past 12 months, Widewail discovered that 64% of positive Google reviews for U.S. apartment properties praised on-site staff. Following staff, other common positive review topics included location, maintenance, maintenance staff, and amenities. Many tenants also appreciated the cleanliness, friendliness, and overall aesthetics of their properties.


Katie Ritter, multifamily lead at Widewail, emphasized the importance of in-person interactions during property tours. "People are happy in the beginning, they’re excited,” Ritter noted. “This is a moment — a high human touchpoint that can drive that positive interaction.” Indeed, favorable reviews given during the tour stage mentioned staff at an even higher rate of 75.95%, suggesting that positive initial impressions can significantly influence overall tenant satisfaction.


The Impact of Negative Experiences


On the flip side, maintenance issues were the most frequently mentioned concern in negative reviews, appearing in 34% of such feedback. Management and communication problems followed, with staff-related complaints ranking fourth. Notably, maintenance woes were also a significant source of dissatisfaction during unit turnover, with 41.2% of negative reviews during this period citing maintenance issues, followed by unit condition and cleanliness concerns.


Insights into Review Patterns and Property Performance


Widewail's data provided further insights into the broader landscape of tenant feedback. On average, each property studied received 1.59 reviews per month and maintained a star rating of 3.94 out of five. Despite this relatively high rating, over 28% of the reviews were negative. However, property managers appeared responsive, with an impressive response rate of over 88%.


The study also highlighted disparities in the topics mentioned in positive versus negative reviews. For example, rent issues appeared in one in 10 negative reviews but were rarely mentioned in positive feedback. Similarly, pests and billing/fees were significant pain points in negative reviews but were infrequently noted in positive ones.


The Role of Aesthetics and Amenities


Aesthetics and amenities emerged as crucial factors in attracting tenants, mentioned in almost one in five positive reviews. However, these elements were also a source of dissatisfaction in some cases, appearing in 13% of negative reviews. This duality underscores the importance of tailoring amenities to meet resident needs and expectations.


Conclusion: People Plus Technology for Optimal Resident Experiences


Jake Hughes, Widewail's director of marketing, and Katie Ritter both advocate for a balanced approach combining people and technology to enhance operational efficiency and resident satisfaction. Ritter succinctly encapsulated this philosophy: “Our data suggests removing people from the process entirely … is not necessarily what is going to drive a great resident experience.”

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