How to Handle a Negative Real Estate Review

Any press is good press… right?


There’s nothing good about a bad review for your real estate business (yes, reviews are a type of press).

It’s shocking, embarrassing and confusing. It can spoil an otherwise flawless track record of reviews. And it can make you doubt yourself.

When you receive a negative real estate review, it can send you into a state of worry and anger. But it doesn’t have to be the end of the world.

What matters now is how you handle the review. Because while you may not be able to erase it, you can prevent it from impacting your real estate business.

Here’s the best way to handle a negative real estate review.

Pause and Reflect Before Reacting

Patience is truly a virtue when it comes to a bad review for your real estate business.

If you jump into action — by immediately calling the person or publicly responding — you risk making the situation worse. 

Once your shock or anger dissipates, take some time to contemplate the review. Evaluate what it’s saying.

Do you recognize the situation that the reviewer is referring to? Can you understand what events or actions have caused them to think and feel a certain way? 

Putting self defense aside, could there be any truth to the criticism? Or can you see that they’re lashing out because of something that made them feel neglected or underserved?

Reach Out to the Reviewer

Real estate is a business of relationships. Good relationships with past and present clients are crucial to growing your real estate business.

A negative review, whether it’s from a client or from someone who was considering hiring you, is a clear indication of a relationship gone sour.

But it doesn’t mean there’s no hope. You still have a chance of rectifying things and rescuing the relationship if you reach out to the reviewer directly. 

Yes, this can be awkward. You may feel sheepish, or frustrated. But it’s important to put emotions aside and approach the conversation from a place of concern and wanting to make things right.

You should first try to reach the reviewer by phone. Tone can be easily misconstrued in email, plus an email can be too easy — a phone call communicates that you’re serious about wanting to make this right.

As for what to say? Well that depends on the content of the review. 

If you understand why the reviewer might feel a certain way, or maybe you recognize that you indeed made a mistake, then it’s best to approach the conversation with a sincere apology. A heartfelt “sorry” can go a long way. 

If you disagree with the review, or feel as though an event or action was misconstrued, then approach the conversation from a place of concern. Let them know you want to learn more about what they felt, to open up a dialogue and come to a place of understanding.

Remember: your goal is to rescue the relationship in order to protect the success and reputation of your business. This is not the time to be defensive, accusatory or emotional. 

Ask the Person to Edit or Remove the Review

Pending the outcome of your conversation with the reviewer, you might be able to ask them to consider editing, updating or (if it was posted publicly) removing the review entirely. 

You should only consider making this request if during your conversation you came to a place of understanding and ended on good terms.

Timing matters, too. If you ask during your conversation, you risk the person thinking that you only reached out because you wanted the review removed — not because you truly cared about salvaging the relationship.

Instead, send a follow-up note later on. Reiterate your apology or mention how glad you are that the two of you were able to come to an understanding. Then, politely ask if they’d consider editing or removing the review. Explain the potential impacts on your business to help them understand what’s at stake. 

Respond to the Review (in Rare Circumstances)

There are two situations in which you might consider responding to the review.

If you understand the reviewer’s perspective and want to publicly take ownership

If the review hasn’t been removed or edited, then this should be your next step. 

A thoughtful, empathetic and humble response can go a long way in making the reviewer feel understood, and creating a positive impression for potential clients who may be reading the reviews.

Acknowledge what they’re feeling and be empathetic. Apologize and briefly recognize your missteps. Thank them for their review. If you weren’t able to reach them for a one-on-one conversation, then offer the option in your response. 

If a public review is particularly accusatory or offensive, if your attempts at reconciliation were refused and/or if you feel the review is truly based on exaggeration or even fabrication.

The most important thing here is to consider your goal when replying (e.g., is it to correct an unfair characterization?) and the impression that your reply could create for other people who read it. 

An angry, defensive reply is only going to hurt you. To respond in a way that casts you in a flattering light, and that helps anyone reading understand that the reviewer — not you — is likely in the wrong, you need to be:

  • Calm and gentle. Level-headed language and tone is key.
  • Considerate and empathetic. Show that you’ve taken the time to reflect and to try to understand their perspective.
  • Logical. If the review contains a falsehood (e.g., the reviewer says you wanted to list their house for $100,000 less than what you in fact had said), then you can politely offer a correction and state that there may have been a misunderstanding. 

Focus on Getting New Reviews

What heals the hurt of a bad review? The glow of a great review!

Positive reviews and testimonials can help you get more real estate leads.

Feel awkward asking clients for reviews? Check out these three real estate testimonial request emails that work.

Have you ever received a negative review for your real estate business?

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