Reputation Property Management Report Shows that Top Apartment Rentals Embrace the Digital Customer Experience

Research also found that Reputation Score Correlates with Higher Top Line Revenues for Multifamily Housing

Reputation, the global leader in reputation experience management (RXM), released findings from its 2021 Property Management Reputation Report, which analyzed more than 80,000 multifamily residential properties across the U.S. The research shows that the property managers who have adapted to changing consumer behaviors have protected or improved their reputations as they emerge from the pandemic. Additionally, renters are leaving more reviews than ever, with positive sentiment centered around digital tools used by property managers and the speed at which building staff respond to various requests.

Analyzing data from Google, Facebook and Twitter, along with proprietary machine learning algorithms and natural language processing technologies, the report found that:

  • Reviews are essential. 84% of people read reviews before touring an apartment. But a shocking 32% of property management locations did not receive a single review on Google in the last 12 months — and only 20% received more than 10 reviews.
  • A location’s customer service and maintenance staff on the front lines make or break a reputation. Customer service is the main driver of high ratings for properties, followed by location and the speed with which an apartment responds to renters’ needs.
  • Rents are a problem. Rents are causing a spike in negative reviews, which is especially problematic for property managers because 77% of renters say that rent is the most important factor when they search for an apartment. Property managers need to monitor this situation closely and proactively manage perceptions.
  • Reputation equates to revenue. A 100-point increase in a property’s Reputation Score adds $150,000 (for 500 units managed) to $3 million (for 10,000 units managed) to top line revenue annually.
  • A higher Reputation Score makes a location more visible on Google. Locations with Reputation Scores of 800 or higher enjoy 2.2 times more views on their Google My Business listings and 2.7 times more actions than locations with a Reputation Score of score 400-500.

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“Cortland is proud that we maintained our position as the #1 property management brand in online reputation, despite the unimaginable challenges of 2020. When the lockdowns started, our teams had to not only begin to care for our residents in an unprecedented way but also quickly pivot to a leasing and touring experience that was mostly – and at times entirely – digital,” says Cortland Chief Experience Officer, Mike Gomes. “By letting us know in real time exactly what is helping or hurting our communities’ level of service and digital presence, Reputation Score allows us to lean in on the areas we’re doing well and quickly make changes in the areas that need improvement, which enables us to continue to perfect our prospect and resident experience. None of this would be possible without the Reputation Score metric and the hard work of our community teams.”

Property Managers Define a New Digital Journey
The renter journey went digital in 2020 as a result of the global pandemic, and the digital experience in property management is now here to stay. Upon examining 600,000 renter ratings/reviews across property management firm websites, Google My Business (GMB) listings and social media channels, Reputation found the following:

  • There was an overall increase in traffic to and action taken from GMB listings.
  • The mention of “virtual” increased by 10x (999%) between January and April 2020.
  • Those mentions dropped noticeably in 2021, but the total volume is still 4.6x (358%) higher than pre-pandemic levels.

Reputation ranked the top property management firms using its proprietary algorithms to analyze more than 80,000 multifamily residential properties. Top firms achieved consistently strong remarks across all elements of the Reputation Score, ranging from customer sentiment to their ability to respond to reviews.

Top 20 Property Management Firms

  1. Cortland
  2. AvalonBay Communities
  3. Bozzuto
  4. Starwood Capital Group
  5. MAA
  6. Greystar
  7. Equity Residential
  8. Lincoln Property Company
  9. BH Management
  10. Edward Rose & Sons
  11. Asset Living
  12. Avenue5 Residential
  13. Monarch Investment and Management Group
  14. Apartment Management Consultants
  15. Cushman & Wakefield
  16. Morgan Properties
  17. RPM
  18. FPI Management
  19. Hunt/Envolve Communities
  20. WinnCompanies

Renters Are Leaving More Reviews — and Overall Sentiment Is Positive
Renters are sharing their opinions more than ever – overall 2020 had more reviews than any previous year at 5% more than 2019 and 14% more than 2018. 2021 looks to continue the trend with a monthly average of 7% higher than it was in 2020. Sentiment is overall positive, with 66% of renters leaving positive feedback versus 29% that were negative. High ratings are attributed to customer service, location and speed with which a property management company responds to renter needs.

A spike in negative reviews is largely centered around rent prices, but inattentiveness from the rental office, residential issues and surcharges are also areas of concern. Property managers will need to keep an eye on this, especially as people return to major cities where rent is typically on the higher end.

Property Managers Need to Fix a Digital Disconnect
While digital tools have positively impacted the industry, the report found that there is still a disconnect between how renters and property managers use digital:

  • Unstructured data plays a vital role in the consideration phase of the renter journey – 84% of renters say they read reviews before touring an apartment.
  • Property managers aren’t consistent in engagement – 32% of properties did not receive a single review on Google in the last 12 months.

“Digital tools generate troves of data that can both simplify the tenant acquisition process and generate troves of data that will improve the entire resident experience, leading to increased revenues through retention and new leases from referrals,” says Joe Fuca, CEO of Reputation. “Our latest Property Management Reputation Report emphasizes the importance of digital and gives property management leaders key steps to take to level up their current digital experience.”

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