A new survey has uncovered how renters search for, evaluate and share their rental experiences online.
Commissioned by Binary Fountain, the survey found that consumers depend on online ratings and review sites and property manager engagement to make informed decisions when searching for a rental property to live in.
“The 2019 Renter Insight & Digital Engagement survey further proves the impact, significance and trust online ratings and reviews have on U.S. consumers,” said Aaron Clifford, senior vice president of marketing at Binary Fountain.
“It is imperative that U.S. property owners and managers carefully monitor and evaluate their online reputation if they wish to remain competitive in today’s dense real estate market.”
Binary Fountain, an online reputation management platform, commissioned the survey by SurveyMonkey Audience.
It found that online ratings and review sites are increasingly being used to discuss and share elements of a resident’s experience, from the start of the rental search to signing the lease and living at the property.
Binary Fountain’s survey results illustrate the high-level of trust U.S. renters place on ratings and review sites when making their rental decisions.
● 64 percent of renters use online reviews to search for a rental property at the beginning of their search and 21 percent of renters use online reviews to search for a rental property before they tour.
● A majority, 74 percent, of renters read between 1-10 reviews before making a decision on a rental property.
● In fact, 85 percent of respondents say they look at online ratings and reviews even after a friend or family member recommends a property.
● Additionally, 64 percent of American renters are willing to pay more for a property with more positive reviews and/or higher rankings.
When asked, “which listings or ratings/review websites do you use/have you used to search for a rental property to live in,” the survey found Zillow (58 percent) as the primary source, followed by Google (51 percent), Apartments.com (48 percent), Realtor.com (29 percent) and Craigslist (25 percent), among others.
However, when it came to “sharing your rental property experience online,” respondents selected Google (31 percent) as the leading choice, followed by Facebook (27 percent) and Apartments.com (24 percent).
93 percent of U.S. renters used online reviews to search for a rental property at some stage of their rental search.
However, renters have become more critical of the type of reviews they read and trust.
When asked to “select the top three aspects that matter most in a rental property’s online ratings and reviews,” the survey found: 57 percent of respondents selected “negative reviews” as the most important aspect of a rental property’s online ratings and reviews, followed by “positive reviews” (55 percent), “How recent the last review was” (42 percent) and “star ratings” (39 percent).
The survey found that potential renters take property manager engagement into consideration when evaluating a property.
To attract and retain loyal tenants, property managers must be vigilant in monitoring and responding to reviews.
• When evaluating a rental property to live in, 92 percent of renters think it is helpful when a property manager responds to online reviews.
• Furthermore, the majority of renters (89 percent) said they would post an online rating or review if asked by a property manager to share their rental property experience.
The survey found that U.S. renters demand the same things when choosing a rental property to live in versus rating and/or evaluating a property they currently or previously lived in – just at different levels. The survey results revealed:
• 80 percent of respondents selected “value & cost” as the most important factor when choosing a rental property to live in, followed by 77 percent that selected “location” and 65 percent that selected “safety & security.”
• Similarly, 73 percent of respondents selected “value & cost” as the factor that matters the most when rating and/or evaluating a property they currently or previously lived in, followed by a tie, at 61 percent, between “location” and “safety & security.”
When looking to satisfy the needs and expectations of U.S. renters, the survey highlights attentiveness as one of the top frustrating factors for renters searching for a property.
For example, the survey results showed: 31 percent of renters selected “finding accurate information online about the property” as the most frustrating issue about searching for a rental property to live in, followed by “waiting to hear back from the property manager or realtor” (18 percent), “compiling and filing application/required documents for renting” (17 percent) and “parking/commute” (16 percent).
Feedback for the survey was obtained from more than 1,100 U.S. adults who have searched for a rental property to live in in the last two years. The survey was conducted between May 2 – 3, 2019.