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Building the Future -- Anita DiPietro

Look up AED Asset Management online and you’ll find a full-service firm that offers everything from property management to construction services and design. The three-year-old firm (it was incorporated in 2018) boasts assets under management totaling 50 single- and multifamily units as well as office space in and around the Washington, DC area. But the notable thing about AED is that its founder and owner is 29-year-old Anita DiPietro, CPM®.

The young professional go-getters featured in this series typically see ownership sometime in their professional future. DiPietro, who is among IREM’s 2021 30 Under 30, can already check that box, with her future holding, she speculates, “ownership of a few companies,” in various trades.  

But she is frank about the head start she received to make AED happen. “I went into the job market right after high school,” she says, “so I had a jump of seven or eight years already.” (She did eventually go back to receive her Bachelor’s in Business Administration from George Mason University.)

One of the jobs she interviewed for was with a local real estate investor, where she grew through the ranks. She left the firm in 2017 and moved to Central Coast California to lend a helping hand in the fall harvest and learn how to make wine. (Keep this in mind.  We’re getting back to it.) She was successful at managing real estate from afar for friends and family back in the DC area. Once the fall harvest was over, she had an eye to starting a small business and began pursuing further enrichment in the industry. Toward that end, she got her CPM certification this past February, and is now “gunning for” her CCIM designation.  

Of course, she doesn’t manage the AED portfolio alone. Her part-time, women-led staff includes an accountant and a leasing/operations professional, backed by a healthy number of trusted contractors. Nevertheless, business ownership is a big nut to process. DiPietro says it can be done “if you’re efficient with time management and you’re a task master, which I am.”

Despite the depth and breadth of work that defines property management, DiPietro confesses she’s not a multitasker and says, “I’m OCD when it comes to projects, and something won’t leave my brain until it’s done. God bless my contractors. But I think my tenants and clients have come to appreciate my work ethic.” 

Multitasking (“It’s not a real thing,” she says) would seem to be a requisite for success in such a nuanced profession. DiPietro says it’s the nuances that surprise most outsiders about the property management profession. “I’m always surprised by the assumptions made by people outside the industry,” she says. Many people are unaware of the need to “make sure you’re covering all bases all the time-- maintenance, leasing, compliance with the city, and the need to foresee potential problems.”

Growth of a different kind

Along the way to carving out her own business, DiPietro admits to finding out a lot about owning a business, and about herself. “One of my big eye-openers when I first started was how to grow more clients. I wasn’t sure how to accomplish that.” References from friends and family came to her aid, and she hasn’t had to do much advertising or marketing as a result. “Not knowing where new business would come from was the most daunting part.”

Concerning her own approach, she discovered she’s a very impatient person. Which is interesting since that’s a trait she recommends new entrants check at the door. “Property management is a profession where you have to divide your brain into different sections,” she notes, “but at the end of the day, it’s all about relationships.” And that, she adds, is where understanding and patience are most needed.

It was certainly true during the pandemic, and she found the patience to stand by her struggling tenants and residents throughout. In fact, she reports that her firm maintained a 96% occupancy throughout the health crisis, thanks to strategies designed to get landlord and tenants alike through the crisis.

Strategies such as dropping rents as necessary “to ensure we had as little vacancy as possible,” she says, “with the long-term goal to increase rents after the crisis ended. It was all about working a path forward for the individual tenant. After all, who am I to increase rents for someone who can’t afford it?”

COVID, of course, brings up the other slice of insight DiPietro has for up-and-comers. “Remember that property management isn’t for the faint of heart,” she says. “If you’re an organized person and consider yourself a planner, if you enjoy solving complex problems and you have a high tolerance for frustration, property management might be for you. It’s a tough job. But it is rewarding.”

One of the most rewarding aspects of the career is “the freedom it gives me,” she says, “I’m very cautious about growth. I’m in a sweet spot right now. I have enough properties under management, and we’re thankfully enjoying a certain level of income. It allows me the freedom to pursue other things.”

And those “things” are far-flung; things such as “tinkering. I’m a bit of an inventor.” And she’s also a Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 2-awarded sommelier. And there’s more. DiPietro is working on a wine bar, bed and breakfast concept called Tasting Room. The Virginia-based enterprise obviously combines her passion for wine and knowledge of real estate management.

To accommodate multiple interests, she’s cautious about how she grows. In terms of property management, “I’m very picky about the landlords I work with and the properties I decide to take under management” she says. “I know how to say no. Although I do love a good challenge.”

That was true from the outset. 


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