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Few factors are as critical to generating leasing traffic as online reviews. According to a survey by J Turner Research, 78% of students surveyed stated that ratings and reviews had a strong effect on their decision to visit a property, and 73% indicated ratings and reviews affected their decision to lease an apartment.

With numbers as substantial as these, it is easy to feel discouraged and worried when a negative review comes in. However, I would argue that negative reviews are actually positive. Here are five reasons why negative reviews aren’t one-star branded nails in the proverbial coffin.

1. They provide actionable feedback.

The majority of negative reviews will include specific — sometimes more than we’d like — instances of issues. These provide a clear path when determining areas for improving your community. From maintenance requests to staffing issues, negative reviews take the guesswork out of determining weak spots in your community.

2. They present your property with a chance to show off.

Negative reviews offer the best chance to showcase your staff’s customer service skills. Concisely and sympathetically responding to and solving issues that your residents are having will indicate to future residents that your community takes all issues seriously.

3. They provide realistic insight.

If your property’s profile was flooded with five-star reviews, it would not seem very realistic. Having a few not-so-stellar reviews mixed in shows potential residents that these reviews are trustworthy as they demonstrate a range of authentic experiences.

4. They provide an opportunity for self-reflection.

It’s sometimes difficult to look at the big picture, especially when day-to-day operations of your property get to be stressful. Taking the time to look through each review offers the opportunity to gain valuable insight as to how others view your community. Go beyond addressing the issues in your most recent review by sifting through all of them and looking for patterns that can be interpreted and
potential issues that can be mitigated.

5. They generate buzz!

We’ve all heard the age-old adage often associated with circus owner and publicity-generating extraordinaire, P.T. Barnum: “All publicity is good publicity.” While this isn’t a hard and fast rule, negative reviews that have been responded to responsibly — with actions and words to rebuild relationships — can be a great view into the customer experience and a great form of publicity. Increased activity on your property’s profiles on various platforms will increase its visibility. This visibility will generate name recognition, which is the first step to increasing traffic to your leasing office.

Online reviews give potential residents an impression of your community. Whether the sentiment of these reviews is positive or negative, property managers should view each review as an opportunity. They are a look into the way your community is perceived by those closest to it — past and current residents.

While you should always strive for positive reviews, don’t be discouraged by the occasional negative one. They offer endless opportunities for improvement, reflection, and action.