Like most home buyers today, you’ll likely do a lot of your research online before making a final decision on who will build your new home. Browsing builder websites is a common practice to learn more about the company, the available models and communities, and its processes.
However, in order to make a confident decision on the experience, many turn to other people who have worked with the home builder, in the form of online reviews.
But how do we know if online reviews are trustworthy? Past buyers who had a great experience are far less likely to post an online review than those who may have been dissatisfied, skewing the overall ratings for the company. And some reviews can even be fake.
Here are a few ways you can determine for yourself if the online reviews you’re reading are worth basing your decision against.
Where To Find Online Reviews
Most commonly, consumers take to Google or Facebook to leave an online review for a business from whom they’ve purchased. However, there are other review sites available, such as TrustPilot, Better Business Bureau, and Yelp. Be sure to search thoroughly for the primary review location for the businesses you’re considering. Their websites may also contain a link to the location of their online reviews.
How To Uncover Fake Reviews
Fake reviews are sometimes placed by a nosey competitor or friends of a past client who was unhappy with his or her experience. They are generally malicious in nature and their primary intent is to deter you from even considering buying from the company in question.
Most review websites, like Google, do not allow the business to remove reviews. Even if they are fake. It’s very difficult for Google to know if the reviews are actually fake or if the business is just trying to remove a bad review so their policy is often to just leave every post active.
Read the review carefully. Inauthentic reviews can appear to be extremely vague, with no real details about an actual experience. These reviews can be more emotional in nature. Conversely, fake reviews can also contain far too many details in an attempt to sound legitimate. If the review reads like a store with a scene set out for you, it’s likely not real.
Take note of the timing of the reviews. If there is a cluster of negative reviews all posted around the same date, there is a distinct possibility this could be a targeted campaign by a malicious party.
Scrutinize The Reviewer’s Profile
There are a few simple clues within the reviewer’s online profile that can tell you whether the reviews they leave are legitimate or not. Some reviewers may have been paid to leave their reviews, or they may be part of an organized attack campaign.
By clicking on the reviewer’s profile, you can often see the other reviews this person has previously posted. If several reviews are similar in nature, such as all five-stars, zero-stars, or no comment at all attached to a star count, this is an indication it’s a paid review.
This isn’t to say there aren’t reviewers who simply do this, but it is a red flag.
Some other things else to watch for? No photo on the reviewer’s profile, no bio description, or the name seems illegitimate. This person may wish to remain anonymous so they are not attached personally to the reviews they’re leaving. Additionally, if the reviewer only has one review attached to their profile, it’s not likely legitimate.
Reach Out To The Reviewer And The Builder
If you’re unsure if a particular review is authentic, it may be worth reaching out to the reviewer directly with some questions. Fake or paid reviewers are not likely to respond at all, but valid reviewers are almost always willing to be helpful.
You can also reach out to the builder to ask questions about the reviews you’re seeing. They may be able to provide you with further information about the situation and how it was resolved.
Assess How The Company Responds To Reviews
Out of all the points on this list, this is the most important.
Communication is key; this holds true for any relationship. And make no mistake, working with a home builder is a relationship.
So does the home builder respond? Do they make an effort to reach out to reviewers – both negative and positive – and communicate with them?
The online review itself is important, but just as important is how the business responds. Most online reviews cannot be deleted or removed, so negative reviews are a great opportunity for a company to show how it handles complaints or issues.
If the home builder copies and pastes a canned response to every bad review, this is possibly a hint at a lack of proper customer service. A business that responds with a genuine, customized message to each reviewer (good or bad) shows that no matter what your experience is, they will be there to work with you. Take note if the company seems to be attempting to rectify the issue or if they’re simply being argumentative and blame-shifting.
Collect Enough Reviews To Make A Proper Assessment
To make a proper assessment of online reviews, be sure to consider a good dozen or more that seem valid. Although negative experiences are more likely to show in online reviews, you can still assess the overall customer experience by searching out the positive reviews for comparison.
If there are trends in the negative reviews, such as a specific recurring problem across several experiences, it may be worth discussing with the builder to find out what the issue might be and how they intend to resolve it. Likewise, if there is a commonality among the positive reviews, this is a great indication of what to expect.
Most consumers today will research online reviews to assess what their experience might be like buying from any business. Working with a home builder is no different.
Doing a good amount of research into these reviews can help you decide on who should build your new home, but keep in mind these reviews are just a part of the overall picture. Asking the builder about the reviews they’ve received allows them the opportunity to demonstrate how they handle issues, but also shows the builder what you expect as a buyer.