Building A New House
Oct 09, 2019 7:46 am
Beware of the numerous anonymous 5 star reviews in your research into potential builders. Many of these are fake, commissioned and incentivised by the builders themselves. Particularly the glowing 5 star ones on productreview with no substance or facts included. Some high profile major volume building companies (HIA 2019 top 20) are clearly 'gaming' this platform to manipulate their star ratings and deceive their potential customers. In a slowing construction market over the past 12 months some builders are now desperate and are resorting to such un ethical marketing tactics to compete for new customers. Some key watch-outs are:
Reviews from people who have only ever posted one or two reviews.
Be aware that ‘verified customer’ simply means the reviewer has submitted a document to product review that shows some relationship with the builder and this document can easily be mocked up and faked by the review poster.
No substance to the reviews, just fluffy generic positive comments with no specifics.
Reviews that look like adaptations of a template, following a similar pattern.
No balance of the positive and negative aspects that most realistic reviews would have.
The company's staff are repeatably identified and praised (usually against the product review platforms posting rules)
Reviews of companies that pay 'management' service and marketing fees to the website.
Reviews that repeatably praise the 'honesty' and ‘integrity’, 'warmth' , 'process' and responsiveness of the company's staff etc, (not the homes).
Reviews that disparage the company's competitors, both in general or actually naming them.
High proportions of pre contract or pre construction stage process reviews, not of the of the actual finished product.
Every build will have issues that have been solved along the way, nothing is perfect - look for some details of how these were actually managed and solved by the builder.
Check into the Q&A threads for other readers comments about suspicious reviews. Often some online vigilantes call them out.
For your research into a circa $500K purchase do not just accept what you read online is real. Or the aggregated star ratings are meaningful. It may be a good idea to use the product review message facility to actually contact the review posters and ask for more specific details if you intend to consider the reviews and ratings to assess a company. If you are suspicious Cheekily ask the builder to confirm in writing, from their own customer records that they have themselves checked these reviews are indeed real! The online fake review writers such as builders’ sales staff using multiple email accounts to register on review forums, social media advertising agencies, or paid overseas fake review providers will struggle with providing authentic specific details and risk identifying and outing themselves.
Beware! The home building market has slowed down significantly recently and volume builders are becoming increasing desperate competing for sales. If a company is this deceptive at this early stage of your relationship consider how they might behave towards you after you have signed the contract, it’s a buyers market now, research and select your builder carefully, not just based on their home design, sales talk, and their online advertising! Honesty and ethics are also very important.
Re: Take Care Researching Major Builders' Online Reviews3
Nov 27, 2019 6:40 pm
Great idea to share this advice Norfolk! My husband and I experienced exactly what you detailed in your advice. Wish we had read this before losing thousands to one of these builders!
Re: Take Care Researching Major Builders' Online Reviews4
Nov 27, 2019 7:49 pm
Yes, like with my recent building experience, unfortunately its wisdom in hindsight! With anonymous online personas and multiple user accounts able to be created, I am concerned that not everyone is straightforward.
Re: Take Care Researching Major Builders' Online Reviews5
Nov 29, 2019 12:43 pm
Typical example - a well known Perth builder with initials DAH.
6-8 years ago they had a reputation for delivering poor quality builds at a premium price and it was reflected in their online reviews.
Now for the last 3-4 years it's all glowing reports from people who've never felt the need to review anything else at all.
Maybe they did learn from their mistakes but the sheer number of reports and the fact that they all use much the same wording makes me somewhat doubt it.
Most builders now offer cash rewards or extra inclusions for good reviews.
Re: Take Care Researching Major Builders' Online Reviews6
Dec 04, 2019 12:18 pm
Gotta agree with this. A lot of the reviews are suspiciously fake, especially in product review site.
I am told a great tip on how to identify real reviews and potentially fake reviews in product review site. Just look out for "Review collected in partnership with XXX Builders/Homes" -- those reviews are potentially fake.
A lot of these builders will submit reviews "on behalf" of their customers and will only post the good reviews. Those reviews will be identified with "Review collected in partnership with XXX Builders/Homes".
Better to ask around in forums such as this, or facebook groups.
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