Real Estate Reputation Management: Why to Focus on Online Reviews

real estate reputation management

In the digital age, the reputation management of real estate businesses is significantly influenced by online reviews, the new word-of-mouth so to speak.

Good and bad reviews are crucial as they shape public perception and can dramatically impact sales and client acquisition. That’s why effective online feedback management is necessary, it can enhance credibility and attract more clients to your business by demonstrating responsiveness and a commitment to customer satisfaction.

In this article, you will learn how to manage your online reputation through online reviews.

What are online reviews?

You’ve heard about word of mouth right? So, online reviews and word-of-mouth are both vital forms of feedback that influence consumer decisions, but they differ in their medium and reach.

Word-of-mouth is typically personal and direct, shared between family, friends, or acquaintances, often perceived as more trustworthy due to the personal connection.

Online reviews, on the other hand, are posted on public platforms and can reach a much larger audience. They provide a written record of customer experiences that can be accessed globally, offering a diverse range of opinions and insights.

In real estate, online reviews can include a variety of feedback types:

  • Customer Testimonials: Positive reviews from clients who have successfully purchased or sold properties, often highlighting the agent’s professionalism, communication, and efficiency.
  • Service Reviews: Detailed accounts of the customer service and support provided by the real estate agency, including responsiveness and problem-solving abilities.
  • Property Reviews: Comments on specific properties regarding their condition, location, and value, which can help future buyers make informed decisions.
  • Agent Reviews: Evaluations of individual real estate agents, focusing on their market knowledge, negotiation skills, and integrity.

Online reviews as part of real estate reputation management

Reviews are an important component in the online presence of any company in any industry.

A substantial 94% of consumers indicated that a negative review has convinced them to avoid a business, highlighting the critical role that online reviews play in consumer decision-making.

In real estate, online reviews provide valuable feedback that helps real estate agencies maintain a positive public image.

They are great marketing material to build trust and attract new clients. A satisfied client testimonial can be placed on the company’s website, shared on social media pages, and even featured in offline advertisements.

Managing a real estate agency’s reputation not only includes answering to positive feedback but also to negative reviews. This shows potential clients that the agency values their opinions and is committed to improving service quality.

Home buyers and sellers highly value the trustworthiness and integrity of their real estate agents. Regular monitoring and managing of online reviews are crucial, as 89% of home buyers would use their agent again or recommend them to others, highlighting the long-term benefits of maintaining a positive online reputation.

How to collect online reviews for your real estate business

The general rule of thumb is “the more reviews, the better”.

Potential customers are more likely to trust a business with many reviews, as this suggests transparency and responsiveness to customer feedback.

Moreover, a larger sample of reviews reduces the impact of any single negative review and provides a more balanced view, making the overall rating more credible.

Here 8 tips to leverage the number of reviews for your business:

  1. Timing of the Request: Ask for reviews at the optimal time, typically right after closing a deal when satisfaction is highest. This moment often captures the client’s enthusiasm and gratitude, increasing the likelihood of them leaving a positive review.
  2. Simplify the Process: Make it as easy as possible for clients to leave a review. Provide direct links to review platforms through email, text messages, or social media. Use QR codes on business cards or promotional materials that direct clients straight to the review page.
  3. Personalized Requests: Personalize the review requests to make clients feel valued. A personalized email or message that mentions specific details about their interaction can make a big difference. For example, referencing a particular aspect of the service that they appreciated encourages a more detailed and positive review.
  4. Incentives for Reviews: Although you should never buy reviews, offering a small token of appreciation, like entry into a raffle or a small discount on future services, can motivate clients to take the time to write a review. Ensure any incentives are in compliance with the policies of the review platforms.
  5. Respond to All Reviews: Engage with reviews by thanking clients for positive feedback and addressing any negative feedback promptly and professionally. This not only shows appreciation but also demonstrates to potential clients that the agent values feedback and is committed to improving their service.
  6. Follow-Up Communications: Sometimes clients need a gentle reminder. A follow-up call or email, asking if they are settled in their new home and reminding them of the review request, can be effective.
  7. Utilize Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Tools: CRM tools can automate the process of sending out review requests after transactions, ensuring no client is missed and making the process systematic and efficient.
  8. Training and Awareness: Train all team members on the importance of reviews and how to ask for them. This ensures that everyone understands the value of customer feedback and actively works towards collecting it.

Which platforms to use for real estate reputation management

As important as how to ask for reviews is the platform you will use to manage them.

About 88% of all online reviews are concentrated on just a few websites: Google (73%), Yelp (6%), Facebook (3%), and TripAdvisor (3%).

These are the primary sources potential clients usually use to check the reputation of companies they want to buy from.

From these, Google, Yelp and Facebook are popular among agencies and agents to gather reviews. However, they are not specialized in the real estate market like:

  • Zillow: This is one of the largest real estate networks on the web, and it includes a section for client reviews of agents. Zillow’s reviews can significantly impact a real estate agent’s visibility and credibility.
  • Realtor.com: Similar to Zillow, Realtor.com allows clients to review real estate agents. These reviews help potential clients make informed decisions based on the experiences of others.
  • Trulia: This is another real estate-specific site where agents can list their services, and clients can post reviews about their experiences.

The aforementioned are famous online marketplaces customers use to buy and sell properties and are also portals agents can use to manage reviews. However, reputation management is not their primary focus.

For this purpose, you should look at your local market to find options like Deutsches Makler Verzeichnis or Makler-Empfehlung.de. These are platforms developed by ViagemIT to meet the demand for reputation management in the German real estate market.

How to make the best of online reviews in your marketing strategy

Reputation management is not only important to mitigate the negative impact of an unsatisfied customer, it’s also a key piece in your marketing strategy.

The feedback you receive online significantly influences consumer trust and decision-making and positive reviews should be used to enhance your business’s credibility and visibility.

For that purpose, you can use the following strategies:

  • Showcasing Testimonials: Positive reviews can be highlighted on the real estate company’s website, social media platforms, and in promotional materials. This showcases satisfied customers and acts as a powerful form of social proof that can attract new clients.
  • Improving SEO: Online reviews can significantly impact search engine optimization (SEO). Encouraging reviews on various platforms like Google My Business, Yelp, and Zillow can improve a business’s search rankings, making it more visible to potential clients searching for real estate services online.
  • Enhancing Trust and Transparency: By openly sharing both positive and negative reviews, a real estate business can demonstrate its commitment to transparency. Responding professionally to negative reviews shows potential clients that the company values feedback and is committed to continuous improvement.
  • Content for Email Marketing: Reviews can be used as content in email marketing campaigns. For instance, a real estate agent can include testimonials in newsletters or dedicated emails that highlight successful transactions and client satisfaction.
  • Social Media Engagement: Sharing positive reviews on social media can boost engagement and foster trust among followers. It’s also an opportunity to engage directly with clients, thanking them for their feedback and inviting further interaction.
  • Creating Case Studies and Success Stories: Detailed reviews can be developed into case studies or success stories to illustrate the agent’s expertise and success in helping clients. These stories can be used on the website, in client presentations, and as part of sales pitches.
  • Boosting Referral Marketing: Positive reviews can enhance referral programs by encouraging satisfied clients to share their positive experiences. Coupling reviews with referral incentives can be a powerful motivator for clients to refer friends and family.

I got a bad review, now what?

Bad reviews are part of the game and all companies will need to deal with it at a certain point. It doesn’t matter how professional and good their services are.

However, a bad review will not necessarily harm your company’s image depending on how you handle the situation.

Here is an action plan in case you receive one:

  1. Respond Promptly: Quick responses show that the agency values feedback and is attentive to client concerns. For instance, if a client complains about poor communication, an agent might respond, “Thank you for your feedback. We strive to maintain open lines of communication and regret that we did not meet your expectations this time.”
  2. Acknowledge and Apologize: Begin by acknowledging the reviewer’s experience and apologizing for any specific issues they faced. A response could be, “We apologize for the inconvenience you experienced during the documentation process. It’s not the standard of service we aim to provide.”
  3. Offer to Resolve: Indicate a willingness to resolve the issue offline. This can prevent further negative interaction in the public eye and shows a commitment to improvement. An effective response could be, “We are committed to improving our services and would love the opportunity to discuss this further with you offline. Please contact us at [phone number] or [email address] at your earliest convenience.”
  4. Take Action: If the complaint points to a recurring problem, it’s crucial to address the underlying issue. For example, if multiple reviews cite delayed responses, the agency might implement new policies to ensure quicker client communications and mention this change in response to the reviews: “We have taken your feedback seriously and are currently revising our client communication procedures to ensure quicker response times.”
  5. Follow-Up: After resolving the issue offline, following up with the reviewer can sometimes turn a negative experience into a positive one. If the situation is resolved satisfactorily, you can politely ask the reviewer to update their review or post a new one reflecting their improved experience.
  6. Learn and Improve: Use the feedback as a learning tool to prevent future complaints. Regularly review and assess feedback trends to make necessary adjustments in service or operations.

By handling negative reviews in this manner, real estate agents and agencies demonstrate professionalism and a dedication to customer service, which can mitigate the impact of the negative review and can even enhance their reputation if handled well.

Conclusion

Reputation management is essential for any real estate business as it has a direct impact on its brand and market presence.

Agents and brokers must implement strategies to collect reviews, choose the right platform to manage customer feedback and work to integrate positive reviews into their marketing efforts.

In case they receive bad reviews, they should strategically address them in order to maintain a competitive edge and trust with potential clients.

ViagemIT helps real estate agents and brokers strengthen their online presence and streamline their work by automating key processes of their business. Check out the solutions delivered to our clients and contact us to learn the next steps to your digital transformation.

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