Reviews of Everything Is Available Everywhere
These days, you can find reviews on everything, everywhere. These can range from the inbuilt features of an e-commerce site where verified purchasers give their feedback. Or the personal writings of a food blogger after visiting a hawker stall. Content is everywhere. So, the question is this? Can real estate such as a condo be reviewed this way? Is it possible to remain neutral and unbiased?
Reviews on E-Commerce Sites
First, let’s analyse the feedback on e-commerce sites. Most of these sell a physical product that has a specific purpose. For example, you happen to be running out of socks. Instead of running to the nearby mall, you decided to go online and purchase them via an e-commerce store.
The thing about e-commerce stores is that they are entirely virtual with nothing to hold and touch. You would have no idea what the socks feel like or have any sense of how durable they are. The only source of information you have are just some photos and a brief text description. Of course, the text description will be biased because the vendor needs to sell the socks. The description needs to be as positive as possible so that you will buy them.
Reviews Are User-Generated Feedback
Reviews, on the other hand, are generated by users. These are the people who have bought the socks, tried it and experienced how it felt like wearing them. Some may love it, while others may hate it. Most of the time, these users will write the reasons how they feel in the product review. So, as a potential purchaser, it does make sense for you to read through all the reviews. That way you can come to have a better understanding of whether the next pair of socks you are going to purchase will be a good one.
Why Unbiased Reviews on Condos Are Not Possible
While the same concept applies to other things such as hotel stays, or even the apps on your phone. The same rationale cannot be used on condo or real estate reviews. Why? Here are my reasons why.
- Each unit in the entire development is different
Some units may be facing the east, some facing the west. Others might face the pool or the expressway. Then there are the shoeboxes and the penthouses. Even though the unit might have the same size, same no. of bedrooms and on the same stack with only a difference in floor level. The view is still different. So, giving an unbiased, neutral review on the entire development which consists of very different elements is technically not possible. Because you are not reviewing one product, you are reviewing a collection of products with very different attributes.
- Personal Bias. Someone’s Meat Is Another’s Poison
Some people love durians, while others hate them. Same thing with real estate. Do consider the following attributes. Depending on your personal preference, you will love some features while hating others.
|Attribute||Positive Trait||Negative Trait|
|West Sun||Unblocked View||Hot|
|Condo With Many Units||Full Fledged Facilites||Lack Of Privacy|
|Apartments with a small number of units||More Privacy||Limited Facilities|
|Near MRT||Convenience||Noisy. Alway Bustling|
|Private Enclave||Quiet||Far From Transport Nodes|
|Face Expressway||Unblocked View||Noisy|
And the list goes on.
All of us are biased and will prefer one attribute to the other. For example, I love durians, coffee and dogs. And that’s also the reason why I don’t watch silly cat videos. Because of our inbuilt bias, trying to tell people that we are neutral is the biggest lie we can tell others. There is simply no way to remain unbiased.
Property Owners Do Not Write Reviews
If you realise carefully, condo reviews are almost always never written by owners or end-users. Why? Writing a bad review is like stepping on your foot. Simply because you will have a harder time selling the unit later. Also, what is the point of a homeowner writing a review of their property? Who will the study benefit? Almost certainly not them. You can’t get the manufacturer to do a refund or adjust unit sizes.
So, Who Writes Property Reviews Then?
Well, the answer is obvious. Those who have an interest in that property then will be the ones who write reviews. For example, it can be a mortgage broker who writes about a review so that they can gain more awareness and get business on property loans. Or a blogger who may write contrarian views to grab attention and traffic to their site. Some journalists write for the developers to market the property. And lastly housing agents such as myself who are paid whenever we sell units.
The Danger Of Believing The Wrong Reviews
Depending on which side you are, there will always be a bias on the property review. In addition to personal preference, it is impossible to remain neutral. I remember the numerous negative reviews of J Gateway when the prices came out. Some people say it was unsustainable. Others say it was overrated. Fast forward to today, the J Gateway homeowners are the ones with the last laugh.
The Conclusion Is This. Unbiased Property Reviews Do Not Exist
We know that unbiased reviews do not exist. Instead of coming from a “neutral” and “objective” angle, we classify and highlight positive attributes. Take ice cream, for example. There are chocolate, vanilla or strawberry flavours. Some come with fancy sprinkles which others are served with fudge. Our job is to tell you which ice cream this is. We do not give negative feedback because we hate a particular flavour. There are all kinds of properties, and we believe that there is always something for everyone. The only real number you can assign to a piece of real estate is the price. Because the price is the ultimate combination of all the attributes into one single number.
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Article contributed by Jerry Wong
Jerry Wong is a realtor with Huttons Asia Pte Ltd. He loves coffee, cookies and condos. Most importantly, he loves connecting people to properties and gets enormous satisfaction when they acquire their dream home or make that capital upside in just a matter of months. Buy Jerry a coffee, and he will meet up with you on a 1 to 1 session to share the following
- How certain factors affect real estate prices. (Using historical transactions as references)
- Applying lessons from history to determine if a condo has the potential for upside or not. These condos can be those under construction, resale or the very one you are staying in right now.
- Or just prepare the toughest question you have on your mind! If it is interesting enough, the answer will be in a blog post and shared with everyone!