LILBURN, GA - In an ironic twist and despite the ever-growing frustration of various apartment ratings sites, several Multifamily executives are not only willing to put their properties up for review, but they are actually asking for it.
"Regarding apartment reviews, it's not that somebody has to do it, it's that somebody has to do it right," said Mark Juleen, VP of marketing for the JC Hart Company based in Carmel, Indiana. "Ratings and reviews have been out there for a long time in the form of ApartmentRatings.com and now Yelp.com. The problem is these companies aren't fostering open communication between the renting community and the apartment community."
Effective March 15, RentWiki will begin an exploration with only a select group of apartment property owners and management companies into the best way to marry property reviews to the apartment Industry. Participating companies include Camden, Mission Residential, Mills Properties, Gables Residential, Urbane Apartments, and the JC Hart Company.
"We believe in our product, our people, our services and our renters," explained Ric Campo, CEO of Camden, a publicly traded multifamily REIT based in Houston. "We look at consumer ratings and reviews as a litmus test of how we're doing. Do we think all the reviews will be good? Of course not. We look at this feedback, we take it very seriously, and we work to improve and foster open communication with existing and potential renters."
RentWiki will only allow property reviews on the test companies listed. No other property listings will have that functionality turned on. During this beta test period both RentWiki and the participating companies will work together to understand and determine the best way properties can engage the consumer and vice versa for a balanced review program. "At some point we'd like to make the functionality available to everyone, but strictly as an opt-in," said Robert Turnbull, President of RentWiki.com. "In other words, a property has to request that reviews appear on their listing. We're going to let the Industry drive this at their own pace."
"Our apartment industry's fear of ratings and reviews is a misconception, and the prospect wants to see them," said Eric Brown, co-owner of Urbane Apartments based in Royal Oak, Mich. "The apartment operators response to a review is the 'golden nugget.' It's a significant marketing tool and advantage to those brave enough to try something new and different. Prospects want to know how you will respond to their problems."
The RentWiki reviews beta test is expected to last approximately 90 days. After which, RentWiki will publish its findings to cultivate more discussion on how best to further harness the potential of social media as an Industry.