Now more than any time in history, we have access to information. Whether it’s an online encyclopedia at our fingertips, online shopping, news outlets, social media, or for investors, real estate listings, the overabundance of information is both a blessing and something to be very mindful of.
We all know that people talk. For real estate investors, there’s nothing more important than reputation. In days past, any criticism investors faced of their managers or properties were largely kept isolated. Maybe there was some word-of-mouth, but it would usually blow over given some time, unless legal action was involved.
Nowadays, however, with the presence of websites like Rentlingo (which includes listings and apartment reviews) and Rentometer (which compares and contrasts rent prices to identify if one is overpaying), among other rental review websites, it’s a lot harder for faux pas and problems to fade into obscurity. That review will be there as long as the site is — and maybe longer.
Your Reputation is at Stake
We’re not suggesting that investors should hide the truth — no, we are advocates for integrity in all of dealings and doing right when nobody’s looking. After all, this isn’t about looking good. But that’s not to say it isn’t also important to do right when people are looking, and now, they’re also speaking up about it.
While not every bad review is your fault (mistakes happen and renters can exaggerate and stretch the truth, after all), chronically receiving low marks is probably a sign that something needs to change. Complaints are often a place for your company to review systems and procedures, even personnel, for weaknesses to improve. Your reputation is precious and the best commodity you have as a professional.
Learn to Be Objective
It’s very easy to look at negative criticism and get defensive. We make excuses, we grumble that the guy never liked us anyway — and we refuse to change. The fact of the matter is, we all make mistakes and we all have room to improve. No investor has the real estate game totally solved.
The only way we become better real estate investors, though, is by recognizing where we have room for improvement. Why did a former tenant leave a bad review? You may have to look into the subtext, but if someone was compelled to write something negative, they had a reason that made sense to them.
Even if your property doesn’t show up on an online review, it may be to your benefit to survey tenants when they move out to see how their renting experience worked out.
It’s worth looking at negative reviews objectively to see where you as an investor have room to improve — whether that means finding a new manager, hiring a different maintenance company, revising policies or simply being more compassionate. If you find yourself getting defensive, get someone you trust to talk through it with you.
Which brings us to the next key in stepping up your real estate investment game:
A Real Estate Investment Accountability Partner
Some of us have mentors in real estate investment. An accountability partner is different. While mentors are often older, more experienced investors who teach and train younger, fresher folks in the business, accountability partners are on more even ground and may differ in their methods.
Accountability partners offer one another advice on problems, and they give encouragement, much-needed pep talks and redirection. They’re there to motivate you and keep you going strong, not only in growing portfolios and profits, but in ethical practices and wise decisions. And you do the same for them.
Not only are accountability partners great for giving you objectivity and clarity, but they provide companionship as well. Unlike mentors, they’re probably in a similar boat as you. Operating in isolation can be very hard on real estate investors (and we don’t recommend it), and accountability partners offer that much-needed connection to someone who understands your struggles.
What to Look for in an Accountability Partner
For real estate investors seeking an accountability partner, remember these qualities:
Genuine friendship. It’s not based on getting something from each other, but genuine care not only as business people, but as individuals with lives, hopes and dreams.
Clarity, tact & honesty. You don’t want an accountability partner who beats around the bush. Whoever they are, you want honesty. Will it hurt sometimes and not be what you want to hear? Yes. But that might just be what you need.
Availability. Accountability partners must be respectful of one another’s time, but you also need to know that if you reach out, you will get a response. Avoid partners that are always too busy for you or who are reluctant to chat.
Similar, but different. While broadly, you need an accountability partner in the same or a similar industry, you also want someone who has a different perspective than you do. Look for investors who utilize different strategies and who invest in different areas in different kinds of real estate. You can learn from each other and use those differences to your advantage.
Do you have an accountability partner as a real estate investor?
Share your experience in the comments.
Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.