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Person-centered property management: Das Haus looks to grow through customer service focus

 Kristina Riley-Rowell. Photo supplied.

Haus is where the heart is, and Das Haus aims to manage your home with care and concern.

Das Haus Property Management, 3902 Milwaukee St. Unit 70722, was founded by Kristina Riley-Rowell in August 2020 after she had worked in real estate and property management for years. Das is a full-service property management company that takes care of listings, rent collections, maintenance, day-to-day operations and renovations.

In her time working for other companies, she saw a gap in how clients were treated— but Riley-Rowell knew she could create a more person-centric solution to the problems she saw.

Riley-Rowell initially got her start in property management from a Craigslist ad in North Carolina that seemed fishy. She was asked to meet in a hotel where her worry about what may happen raced throughout her mind, but she knew that she wanted to work in property management and was willing to take the risk.

“I answered probably the creepiest ad anyone should ever answer,” Riley-Rowell said. “I really, really wanted to be in property management and do leasing and things like that, so I took a chance. And I remember calling my friend and saying, ‘If I don’t call you in like 45 minutes, call the police and tell them to come to this hotel.’ It ended up turning out great.”

This was her first time leasing properties. The first property she worked with had more than half of the units unoccupied. Within the first three months in the position, Riley-Rowell filled all units and was promoted to taking over the entire complex of 362 units, Riley-Rowell said.

She always had a mind for how she could increase the value of each unit, and performed small renovations on each of them. The passion and eye for how to make a property bloomed into more opportunities and an inevitable return to Madison.

Riley-Rowell is originally from Rockford, Illinois. She lived in Madison before, but her move to North Carolina before coming back was for her children’s education. She learned the industry, and when it was time, she came back to Madison to hit the street running.

She noticed a few distinct differences between property management in North Carolina compared to Madison. Largely seasons were different. In Madison, the rush to find a new place and move are tied to UW-Madison students graduating and Epic’s hiring waves. In North Carolina, where it’s warm all the time, there are no seasons for when people are trying to find a place to live, Riley-Rowell said.

“When I came back to what I call home, Madison, I again was in property management,” Riley-Rowell said. “I worked with a big company here in Madison that did a lot of ground-up buildings. By the time I made it to the company… I kind of noticed that there was, I hate to say, a lack of customer service and putting people first.”

The other difference she found was a lack of care and concern for the clients. Her job at the company was eliminated after it decided to sell its building, but that gave her the perfect reason to start her own business doing the work she’s been doing for years and fill in the gaps of being a people centric property management company that she wasn’t seeing in Madison.

“My philosophy is really just putting my tenants and my clients, people, first before profits, and I’ve been able to actually grow my business from referrals doing that,” Riley-Rowell said.

Riley-Rowell enjoys the people-first approach to Das Haus. She knows that this is their home where they live their lives and raise their children. She tries to operate with positive relationships with tenants, even attending their weddings and getting to know their kids.

The name of the company is an homage to her mother, who was born in Germany, and its logo is a reimagined version of her family’s coat of arms.

“I watched her hustle and have this trust and determination in me,” Riley-Rowell said. “At some point, I hope that Das Haus is going to hopefully become a family business and a family legacy.”

Das Haus currently manages 20 doors, a measurement of how many units a property manager oversees, but is looking to expand. The growth of her business has come mostly through word of mouth.

This year, after taking some time to gather herself, Riley-Rowell aims to ramp up her property management company to get more doors under its belt. However, she doesn’t want to be part of the current industry practice of large rent increases in Madison.

“I’m not a typical property manager because I don’t want to gouge people,” Riley-Rowell said. “Unless you’re doing some type of renovation on the unit or improving in some way — these rental increases up to $150 or $200 to these people regardless of their income is insane to me.”