Photo of phone showing online review score.

Understanding the Value of ORM

Real estate investors often neglect one of the most important assets in their portfolios — the reputation of their properties. In the internet age, reputation begins online … and it often ends there too. Hence, the importance of online reputation management.

What Is Online Reputation Management?

Online reputation management (ORM) is based on the assumption that your prospective customers — in the case of multifamily real estate, prospective residents— will search online for information about their property before they commit to “buying” (i.e. leasing).

What will they find? News articles? Reviews and testimonials on Google, social media, or reputation aggregator sites like Yelp? Consumer reports to watchdog organizations like the Better Business Bureau? What will they find … and what kind of picture will that paint.

ORM is the practice of using tools and resources — both online and in-person — to influence what they find in their online search … and to make sure it leaves a positive impression, not a negative one.

An interdisciplinary practice, ORM could include …

  • Public relations
  • Customer relations
  • Digital marketing and SEO
  • … and anything else that touches on the company’s online reputation.

ORM for Multifamily By The Numbers

The impact of online reputation is both well-documented and stark:

  • Nearly 70% of digital experiences start with an online search, with 99% of consumers reporting using online searches to gather information about businesses. In other words, online is highly likely to be the first — or last — impression.
  • One negative article in top search results leads to a 22% decline in business. With four or more negative articles, it jumps to a 70% decline in business.
  • 95% of consumers trust online reviews, while 90% of consumers report avoiding a company with a “bad reputation.” (Hubspot)

To get more specific to the multifamily real estate industry, has some striking data from their own platform:

  • One or more positive reviews can lead to a 33% boost in leads. The boost gets even bigger at 40 reviews or more.
  • Multiple negative reviews with no manager responses correlates to an average loss of 30 customers.
  • A robust Google Business profile — including reviews — represents 66% of an apartment community’s ability to show up in the crucial local search algorithm.

How Multifamily Real Estate Investors Can Manage Their Online Reputation

So now we understand the importance of online reputation in the revenue potential of multifamily assets. How can a multifamily investor get proactive about ORM?

Ask Residents For Reviews

According to BrightLocal, 70% of consumers will leave a review if asked. The first step is to start asking for reviews.

Happy residents tend to take their apartment for granted; residents with a bone to pick tend to be more motivated. By asking the happy residents for reviews, their voices can start to drown out the bone-pickers.

You can send emails to residents asking for reviews. You can also train your on-site staff to ask residents for reviews. Make it easy for them. Include links to the review pages in the emails, or through QR codes on fliers that the staff can hand out.

Respond to Bad Reviews

Remember, the data partially hinged on unanswered bad reviews. An unanswered negative review makes management look indifferent.

Whether on a search engine, social media platform, reputation aggregator, or consumer watchdog site, you should never leave a negative testimonial unanswered. Answering a bad review at least makes it look like you care and are trying to solve the problem.

When responding to negative reviews:

  • Don’t be angry or accusatory. Express empathy for the frustration of the review-writer.
  • Politely tell your side of the story, without assigning judgment or blame. Don’t presume malice; presume misunderstanding.
  • If you or your team were in the wrong, apologize and invite them to reach out to you personally (or to a designated manager) to make it right.

Fight Bad Press with PR and SEO

If negative articles are popping up on the first page of Google searches for your community, it’s time to sharpen the PR and SEO knives.

PR can help produce good articles about your community, while SEO can make that positive press, as well as your other assets (social media, videos, etc.) show up first in searches. If you can edge that negative press off the front page of those Google searches, it won’t have nearly the impact.


The best investment isn’t real estate — it’s reputation. Once you start treating the reputation of your multifamily real estate investments like the seven-figure assets they are, online reputation management can produce dramatic increases in revenue … and with it, ROI.