Homes and gardens

Do ratings matter?

The living room and a balcony

The living room and a balcony  

more-in

Online property reviews majorly impact the decision of those intending to buy a flat but they need to be cautious about false reviews.

Buying a home is, in most cases, a once-in-a-lifetime option. Not long ago, people usually turned to friends and acquaintances to get the opinion about builders and developers. But with the emergence of social media platforms, reviews from homebuyers and clients are also being factored as a critical input to judge the product being delivered by the developers. In fact, the digital word of mouth is the first thing to look at even before the buyers would like to garner the opinion of their known sources.

Consumer research suggests that 84% of the people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Property values are being defined by online reviews. People look into star ratings and reviews on Google, Bing or Facebook or other portals before approaching a developer. They mainly serve as leads. Personal opinions provide a firmer footing.

While some developers too would have spaces for review in their websites, consumers would like to access the independent sources where unfiltered opinion is available. Positive reviews on such portals can provide a real boost to the business. Latest findings suggest that 87% of potential homebuyers are likely to be persuaded to approach developers with ratings between three and five and avoid approaching anyone with ratings two and below. Thus these online reviews provide a window to the business.

Brand review

Says Ashish R. Puravankara, MD, Puravankara Ltd., “Today’s world is digital. It is connected. The first instinct for any buyer is to jump online and search. In the last few years, digital and social media platforms have played a significant role in creating brand loyalty, influencing spending habits and purchasing decisions. The customers, today, refer to various social platforms to compare products and check the brand review, especially for FMCG products, hospitality industry and services.”

Satish Bangalore, MD, SkydealzIndia Property Services, opines that online reviews help the customers shortlist the right developer for their investment.

“Real estate is one among the thriving industries that offer a long-tenure investment opportunity. Choosing the right builder will definitely assist you to get your dream home or investment opportunity. South India being a technology hub, the dependency on online reviews is a lot more serious by the buyers, apart from taking the views of real estate consultants and existing customers on a builder’s deliveries, capabilities, reputation etc. Even the customers are quiet vocal about their concerns on social media platform in case of any negative concern on the investment made”, he adds.

Warning

Farook Mahmood, MD, Silverline Realty, asserts that online mediums definitely matter and such reviews are taken seriously. “They reach back to the developers and if there are complaints and negative comments, they come as a warning. These could be ignored only at one’s own peril.” He however finds it difficult to disagree that developers’ task is a thankless one and seldom do the homebuyers or investors talk positively.

Feedback

However, some property developers would like the developers to first seek feedback from their clients before asking them to write reviews. This enables them to resolve issues, if any, to improve their products and business practices. If the feedback is positive, they would like the same to be put online as a review on one of the many popular websites.

It is also pointed out that the most positive feedbacks (which can be ideal for reviews online) are the ones that come immediately after the transaction is over and the buyers are entering their homes. They are most likely to applaud the job as they are in a happy frame of mind. Negativity enters as time passes. So, ‘strike when the iron is hot’, say the ones who regularly scan these reviews.

Developers can ignore the negative reviews only at their own risk. They are counselled to take measures to redress the grievances at their earliest as negative reviews are feared to turn into a cascade of comments ranging from worse to abusive.

But several observers from the industry feel that the online reviews are not a highly credible medium to judge the product. Some even point out that vested interests use the medium to tarnish a brand with a false review. Rivals and competitors also get into them to injure the reputation of the established ones.

A senior functionary from a leading developer in Bengaluru says that bad, defamatory and derisive comments from buyers could also work as a ‘double-edged sword’ as they could bring down the value of properties occupied by themselves. He says, “While the digital experts say that good reviews and higher star ratings matter in search rankings which helps a business, in real estate, they opine that the loss incurred to the company is lesser than the loss incurred to the reviewer. They remark that people tend to give illegitimate or even invalid reviews on properties that belong to them but built by a specific builder who may be having other projects. Intending to stain the reputation of the builder, the reviewers often cause more harm to themselves as their property value decreases with such acts.”

It is pointed out that resale market in Bengaluru being dim and 85% of the resale stock being above ₹70 lakh, the bad online reviews could only depress the value of the properties owned or occupied by one in case these reviews are negative ones.

It is in this context that most consultants counsel responsible use of the web.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 11:20:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/homes-and-gardens/do-ratings-matter/article29531958.ece

Next Story