Are you looking for your ideal luxury apartment in the Twin Cities? Thanks to the Internet, you can do much of the initial legwork from the comfort of your favorite coffee shop. Everyone's favorite go-to restaurant review site is actually the second most-used resource by apartment hunters. Here are some tips for using Yelp to streamline your search:
1. First Is Not Always Best
When you run a search on Yelp, the results are returned in descending order of best match, but pay attention to the first few entries on the list. If you see a small orange square stating "Ad," that company has paid for their community to jump the line. This doesn't necessarily reflect poorly on the listed community, but be aware they didn't earn that top spot organically.
2. Narrow Your Search
Once you enter your search, you'll see a set of filter buttons along the top. Click on "All Filters" to find a list of neighborhoods and other parameters. If you want to change the search area, click on "Mo' Map" on the thumbnail and drag or use the zoom button.
3. Check the Expiration Dates
Old reviews are less likely to give an accurate picture of a community's current status. You can sort reviews by date as well as by rating. (There is also a search box where you can filter by specific keywords.)
4. Beware of Vague Complaints
If someone reports the heat in their apartment was out for days, that's a serious issue. On the other hand, if someone complains about the neighbors not being friendly enough, that's a completely subjective evaluation. (Yelp also gives companies a chance to address bad reviews, so take note whether or not there are any responses to complaints.)
5. Look for the "Hidden" Reviews
At the bottom of a listing you may see a line stating, "xx other reviews that are not currently recommended." These reviews are not being censored for content, but have simply been flagged by Yelp's recommendation software for reasons that could be as harmless as limited site activity by the reviewer. Go ahead and read them, applying the same evaluation standards you use with other reviews.
6. "Chat" with Locals
The menu bar at the top of Yelp's home page includes a tab called "Talk." It will take you to a number of city-specific bulletin boards where you can pose a question or just get a feel for the local community.