4 ways to deal with a troll in your real estate business

If you’re not familiar with the vernacular, a “troll” is defined by Google Dictionary as:

troll1
trōl/
noun
noun: troll; plural noun: trolls

a mythical, cave-dwelling being depicted in folklore as either a giant or a dwarf, typically having a very ugly appearance.

 

OR


troll2
trōl/
noun
a person who makes a deliberately offensive or provocative online post.
(informal )a deliberately offensive or provocative online posting.

I’m talking about the second type of troll, and this could include any kind of negative response to your ad.

 

A few months back, I had a vacancy, so I wrote some nice ads with nice photos, posted them to my website, then started to distribute them to Kijiji, Craigslist, and social media.  One of the responses was this:

Example Troll #1 Facebook Screenshot
Example Troll #1

“Oh no! No one says mean things when I advertise in the online newspapers or Craigslist or Kijiji, maybe I shouldn’t advertise on Facebook anymore!”


That little voice of fear will make you want to pull down the ad, crawl into your bed and blame mean people that your rental is still vacant…  Those thoughts happen to everyone, me included!

Of course, if you’re serious about real estate and know the huge rewards it brings you when you treat it like a business, you won’t give up that easily.

My strategy:

1. Don’t take it personally.  These trolls don’t hate you, they hate everyone!

2. Be grateful. Mr./Mrs. Troll is doing you a big favour because Facebook algorithms  actually pick up on conflict and makes your post show up in more people’s newsfeeds!  Free advertising!

3. Respond quickly, firmly, and politely. Ensure you tag the troll in your response.  (Also respond quickly to other questions in the same way. I always answer the questions and put link to my site.  Also there there is more info, lots of videos/photos, and an online application to get to the top of the list.)

4. Refute the claim and put it back on the troll. You’ll never change their mind, but the huge audience you gain will approve, and eventually someone else will tell the troll to shut up.

 

Examples

That place has bed bugs!

Bed bugs are terrible, but usually are brought in by the tenant.  I caught a tenant bringing in an old couch that had been sitting outside with a “free” sign on it.  I told them it likely had bugs and they put it back fast.  Here is my response to these type of coments:

Response to Troll #1 Screenshot
Response to Troll #1

You’ll notice I posted a link to the bedbug registry and refuted the comment.  Anyone reading this will presume Ms. Troll brought the bugs in herself, although I did not explicitly say that.  Unless she provides evidence to the contrary, I’ve shown there were no bedbugs here for many years, and certainly not since I owned the building.

 

Other objections should be handled the same way:

Rent too high:

One woman complained rent was too high, landlords are greedy, now her adult son has to live with her because he can’t find a place, and her disability payments are too low. She eventually blocked me so you can’t see her comment, but here is my response.  You’ll notice another landlord piped up to my defence, and if you look at the entire thread (click here or on the photo) you’ll see how many people were tagging others who needed a place to live.

Response #2
Response #2

 

Other responses to rent being too high are handled by other commentators and you won’t need to say anything:

Rent too high?

 

Sometimes a simple response is best, letting everyone know the rent is fair and at market rates.

Invite the complainer to a viewing or to get on the waitlist list.  Point out that there is a lot of people interested.  Perhaps you have something in their price range, or they disclose they aren’t looking for a place to live and discredit themselves as a troll.  Any response you give will help get you more publicity.

 

You ask too much information and that’s not allowed:

The most obvious troll (fake profile) visited my Facebook ad in as many groups as he could find. Here is what that looked like:

A true troll

 

A thoughtful response shuts things down quickly:

 

Since this guy was following around my to ads in many groups and posting his junk there, I was getting tired of replying to him so I tried to confront him privately.  Turns out this seagull didn’t even want a place to live but just wanted to poop all over my parade!

 

Just know that others who are reading your ads and the comments are mostly reasonable people, and eventually someone will get fed up of the BS and tell the troll what they think:

 

 

Pets not allowed, pet deposit too high:

I do allow pets, which allows me to be very picky on who I allow to rent my places, and I can get a much bigger security deposit.  Some landlords don’t allow pets, but because I’ve found responsible pet owners are much better tenants than many who do not have pets.   I got lots more free publicity, even from a tenant advocacy group, and as result rented every unit quickly and for top dollar.

 

Be careful not to get drawn into saying something unlawful like requiring pet deposits for service animals

Your responses will be shared and you’ll get some people who excitedly promote for you!

 

 

Bottom line:

Success (and a paycheck) is just on the other side of that little voice of fear that starts telling you to quit when you’re a victim of trolling.  Don’t back down, stay in the fight, and you’ll grow as a person as you get better at handling conflict and objections!

 

Happy investing 🙂

 

Author: Sam Perren

Family Man, President of R.E.N.T.S., Real Estate Investment Advisor, Syndicator, Bestselling Author, RENTS Podcast Producer

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