Apartment Reviews & the Upside to Uncertainty

Guest Post by Tiffany Lasky-Tumarkin.

During our research for Insights from the Inside, many prospects mentioned looking for or wanting apartment reviews when searching online for their next home. This makes perfect sense, as consumers heavily rely on other consumer’s opinions for decision making more than advertising. We often rely on automobile reviews or movie reviews when deciding on our own car shopping or entertainment needs. However, apartment reviews are different.

Let me explain…when searching for movie reviews you’ll typically find a variety of opinions that highlight the negatives and positives of a given film. On the other hand, anyone who takes time to write an apartment review is typically disgruntled and is more often than not leaving a harsh review. So the vast majority of apartment reviews are negatively skewed and thus, not always fair. 

The other problem with apartment reviews is that the only thing combating overly negative reviews are overly positive reviews which are sometimes written not by actual residents, but by apartment community staff. Consumers are catching on to this and they don’t buy it. “Apartment reviews are either really, really good or really, really bad, it’s just hard to gauge”, said one apartment hunter.

The problem?  Reviews are so polarizing that they seem to lose their credibility. The team at SwampRentals decided to start from the inside and look at our own site to find ways we could become more neutral and thus, more trustworthy. We started with our Gainesville neighborhood guide. You can see, for example, in our review of Downtown Gainesville all of the wonderful things about living downtown from nightlife to cultural events. We also included a ‘Things to Consider’ section including things like limited parking and potential noisiness with clubs & bars getting out at night. This extra section creates a little uncertainty and neutrality to our review. By giving prospects things to consider it appears that you are really looking out for their best interests.

The notion of peppering in levels of uncertainty was also found to be successful through research. The Harvard Business Review recently interviewed Stanford Business professor Zakary Tormala in a podcast titled “The Persuasive Power of Uncertainty”. Tormala unveils his research conclusions that when an expert expresses a little bit of uncertainty or humility in what they say, they gain more influence and persuasion on others. To read more about this study check out the Harvard Business Review online.

See other posts from "Insights from the Inside - A renter's perspective on finding your apartment":


    1. Insights from the Inside – Introduction to our work
    2. Word of Mouth & Social Media for Apartments
    3. Best Practices for Apartments Using an Internet Listing Service (ILS)
    4. Apartment Websites, Apartment Guides & Craigslist
    5. Apartment Reviews & the Upside to Uncertainty
    6. You’ve Been Shopped, Gainesville Apartments!
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