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Residential brokerage execs stake claim in property management arena

Although he has more than 40 years in residential real estate brokerage, primarily in executive roles, John Ludwick is embarking on a new — but closely related — venture.

The former operating partner who helped launch Keller Williams Greater Cleveland has joined with Laird Wynn, a former team leader at Keller Williams, to buy Cleveland Property Management, a Highland Heights-based property management firm focused on single-family property management.

Ludwick said he and Wynn identified a need for additional property management for growing numbers of single-family homes rented by investors or homeowners who became landlords by default after they couldn’t shed homes during the long housing downturn.

“We had agents who wanted to sell as much as they can to investors,” Ludwick said. “A lot of agents needed professional management for single-family homes and had difficulty finding it.”

He and Wynn looked at starting an offshoot of Keller Williams for management, but decided they are two different businesses.

“Residential brokerage is all about keeping everyone happy,” Ludwick said. “With property management, some people will be unhappy with you at times.”

Cleveland Property Management has a portfolio to manage about 500 homes for about 430 different owners in an area from Vermilion to Akron. Its full-time staff consists of six leasing agents and six maintenance workers, as well as assorted contractors. The company provides services from advising owners about repairs needed to get the houses rent-ready, find tenants and handle their billing.

Cleveland Property Management was purchased from prior owners Vadim Kleyner, who operates the Smartland investor-oriented, single-family and multifamily investment and management firm, and Elena Abramovich, who initially will remain with Cleveland Property.

Kleyner said he and Abramovich shed the property management business to increase their focus on Smartland’s investor-oriented business handling foreclosed and distressed properties.

For Wynn, the new endeavor takes him full circle. He started out owning homes as investments and became a broker because he fell in love with the sales side of the business. Wynn said he still owns a handful of investment homes.

Some argue the peak for investor buyers is past as the owner-oriented residential market has started to recover, but Wynn disagrees.

He said Clevelanders do not recognize the value in low-priced local homes as investments. They are particularly striking to foreign investors in countries where property values are so high it is difficult to make a go of it. Wynn believes there is substantial growth to find work for more people who rent out homes by choice or necessity. Future plans call for taking the firm to other Ohio cities.

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