Is accurate?
May 20, 2008 2:06 PM   Subscribe

How accurate is

I've been browsing the site, looking at properties I plan on visiting soon and I've been very surprised at how poorly everything is rated. Is this site accurate, or should I take what is posted there with a grain of salt?
posted by Loto to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Just remember that everyone that had a great stay at an apartment probably didnt feel the need to go out on the net and tell everyone how great it was. However, if someone had a bad experience, argument with the owner, got kicked out, they may try to get them back by writing bad reviews.
posted by ShootTheMoon at 2:14 PM on May 20, 2008

Definitely take it with a grain of salt. Like any site that allows anonymous postings, is going to have its share of exaggerations and outright lies. Since most buildings reviewed are very big, the tenant reviewers will probably have a wide variety of experiences too. I just looked at reviews for a building I once lived in and found this review, "To many trendy people in this builing. Iget the impression that the majority of the residents are desperate for attention." Obviously, that's the kind of crap you have to filter out if you're going to rely on advice from a site like apartmentratings, yelp, or (gasp) metafilter.
posted by Xalf at 2:14 PM on May 20, 2008

So biased, inaccurate or dated that it's almost entirely useless.

I could see it being useful if you're sensitive to a particular issue (like, say, the level of street noise)--you could read through the reviews to see if someone mentions your specific issue in their review. But overall rating percentage is totally useless, IMO.
posted by mullacc at 2:24 PM on May 20, 2008

I would trust the ratings, but of course, carefully check out the apartments for yourself with a grain of salt.

I once lived: here

IMHO, the 17% rating is generous, and having lived there for two years, am certain that most of the positive ratings were written by building management. It was a very good day when the elevator stopped on my floor, and not between the 7th/8th floors thereby forcing residents to crawl their way out of the elevator. There were lots of other issues, too. I'm just saying... if there are a lot of negative reviews, that span over months/years, they're there for good reason, most likely.
posted by raztaj at 2:26 PM on May 20, 2008

Seconding ShootTheMoon. I've lived in some really nice places, but it's never occurred to me to go online, seek out a ratings site, and write about them. But I probably would if I were really pissed off. It's just selection bias. Or something. You can get a decent feel for the neighborhood with Google Maps Street Views though, that might help narrow your choices down at least.
posted by ultraultraboomerang at 2:27 PM on May 20, 2008

Agree with most posters here. I looked at the site a lot when shopping for places to live in Phoenix and found that many of the reviews were old and that the apartment complexes had been sold three or four times since the reviews were written. New owners made improvements, problem residents had long since moved. And as others have said, people who had pleasant experiences never seemed to write. It's worth it to take a visit yourself if there's a property you're interested in. Generally, you'll know right away whether it's the place for you.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 2:31 PM on May 20, 2008

Nthing the "people only think to post when they've had a bad experience." Also, I have heard that often people who work for the apartment will post positive ratings that aren't true to experience. Sometimes they will also post terrible ratings for nearby complexes so they get business those complexes would have gotten.

So you can't necessarily trust the bad OR good ratings. Sucks, huh?

Depending on what you want to know, you may have other options. For example, if you want to see if it's actually in good condition or their pictures are bullshit, Google Maps might have a road view. If you want to know that the complex is safe or not, look up the crime by zip code. If you want to know if the management sucks, you might try looking up who manages it and Googling that. Things very specific to the complex are harder to find out reliably, and it's unfortunate.
posted by Nattie at 2:36 PM on May 20, 2008

It's almost kind of nearly a useful resource. Use it as a supplement to your search, not the main thrust. The thing that tripped me up the most was that some building managers try to be crafty and review their own properties. The text of the skewed reviews is easy enough to spot, but their mucking with the scores makes the averages pretty useless.

So yeah, take that grain of salt. Take the whole shaker.
posted by EatTheWeek at 3:08 PM on May 20, 2008

When I was a leasing agent, towards the end of my time there when management was bad and I felt powerless and stressed, I would read my property's listing with no small amount of malicious glee. I still do, sometimes. It's very true that someone that's hopping mad will be happy to write precisely why in great detail, but someone who had a good experience won't, so the ratings probably skew low in most cases and should be taken with a big grain of salt. But it's still really useful, in my opinion. I used it to help find my last two apartments and here are my thoughts about it:

Pay attention to how management responds, if they do at all. When I moved last summer, I found a management company which replied to all of the postings respectfully, not defensively but gently pointing out differences if there were any, and in a way that made me think that they would be good to rent with. (Their high rating didn't hurt.) Sure enough, when I dealt with them, they were easy to work with, very professional and had everything together. I don't think most properties reply, so this is hardly a dealbreaker, but that really pushed me to look at them first.

Don't pay attention to the numbers, pay attention to the text. The complex where I worked has a rating in the high 20s, and my current one is in the mid-60s. Both of those, I'd say, would be higher if you had more balanced participation. The real value is in the written reviews: for example, I learned through that that the electric bills here are very high, and made sure to find out just how high before deciding. Also, weight the more recent reviews much more heavily than the older ones. Reviews for the property I used to work at even just a year old refer to property managers and bookkeepers and leasing agents that aren't there anymore.

If someone's hopping mad, they might be unjustified, or they might be entirely right. Just as you'd not believe everything you read, don't discount anger just because it's anonymous on the Internet. For my property, someone gave us a low rating because one of the leasing agents refused to give him a ride on the golf cart with her when he had a lot of things to carry. I laughed a long time at that one. (Wasn't me, but I wouldn't have given ya a ride either, buddy.) But another posting about how the poster sought legal advice? Negative, ranty and entirely spot-on.

Not every problem is really a problem: if something in a review concerns you, ask about it. Bugs are often cited in the review of the property I used to work at, and if someone asked me about it on a tour I would be happy to launch into a description of our free pest control service, schedule a visit every Friday if you like. Not many residents knew about it -- I didn't, before I started working there. Residents don't always have all the information.

Nothing compares to your experience with the model, with the real apartment (and don't just see only the model if you're really thinking of renting somewhere) and with the area. Come back later to look at the place, after dark, too. And don't forget, just offhand -- the leasing agent isn't working for you, even if they're honest, well-meaning, love the place and live there themselves. You wouldn't have caught me saying anything about the crime rate in the area, just for personal liability reasons (although it was a safe area, all in all). If a couple of the entries talk about something like that that a leasing agent might have reservations about answering openly, get the information about it elsewhere.

I'm really happy with where I live now, and a big part of that is to being super-prepared (the spreadsheet I made comparing properties is a scary thing), but it really helped to read so much about it on apartmentratings as well.
posted by shirobara at 3:18 PM on May 20, 2008

shirobara wrote a really excellent answer, so all I'll do is let you know that for the five properties I have lived in the gist I just got from their reviews mirrored pretty well my personal gripes/feelings in regards to the places. there were some nutcases in between but that was pretty obviously the case. one of my places in nyc, which was pricey but excellent in service, got through the board accurate reviews about those two things which leads me to conclude that most people there seem to be rather fair about positive things as well.

so if there are ten people complaining about laundry facilities it's probably an issue. if there is one and nine others don't say a word it's probably someone extra anal.
posted by krautland at 4:57 PM on May 20, 2008

I read the reviews of the place I'm in now in Sunnyvale (28%). mmm, 50-50. Some people are obvious complainers, ~half the complaints are fair IME, and maybe a third of the other complaints are contrary to my experience.
posted by tachikaze at 7:18 PM on May 20, 2008

I agree that if there are numerous complaints regarding a specific issue it's probably true. The place I'm currently staying at had complaints regarding parking and when I signed the lease, it was for two assigned parking. The first week I moved in, I've had people park in both our spots (living with roommate) and when I would call management they said they would take care of it, but next morning comes and they are still there... So some complaints made on that site can be accurate if there is alot of people complaining about it.
posted by spacesbetween at 7:26 PM on May 20, 2008

In my last apartment, we found the one that was rated the highest in our price range. When I moved out, I would not recommend it. Entirely because the management company changed 2 months into our lease.

In this apartment, we went shopping in person first and then looked up the reviews online. We already had a really good feeling about this one, based on location, price, sq ft, noise level, and appearance. Sadly, it didn't have the caliber of reviews I was looking for online. I called our rental agent and discussed a few concerns. I visited anonymously and talked to other rental agents. I even wrote out a little note, set up a throw away email address, and left notes on the doors of the building we would be moving into (askme).

Most of the valid complaints were about the community manager being a bitch. So far, I've not dealt with her, but I love everything else about the place. I even talked it up so much our best friends are moving into the next building over next month.

So no, don't worry too much about the review online. Angry people are louder, regardless of if it is a valid righteous anger or not.
posted by phritosan at 10:58 AM on May 21, 2008

« Older How to cope with crippling career regrets?   |   What I thought I wanted to do isn't what I... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.