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How investors from Sweden in search of ‘passive income’ contributed to blight in Cleveland

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Posted at 6:00 AM, Jun 29, 2024

In early October, our media partners at Signal Cleveland received an email from Alice Aveshagen, a reporter at the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. The paper was working on a podcast about investors in Sweden who said they were talked into a bad bet on Cleveland real estate. Aveshagan and her colleague Daniel Persson Mora were coming to Cleveland in November and were looking for leads on reaching a local property manager.

Over the next several months, Signal Cleveland and Swedish journalists shared documents, notes and reporting tips as they pieced together the story of Swedes who invested in more than 100 Cleveland rental houses.

Signal Cleveland analyzed hundreds of property transactions, pored over local housing court records and documents from a Swedish lawsuit that had been translated into English, examined business records from Ohio and Sweden, reviewed emails to investors, contracts and photos of some of the properties that were sold, spoke with multiple investors, two property managers, the businessman whose company sold the houses to investors, and Clevelanders who lived in the homes and neighborhoods. The owner of the Swedish company that marketed the properties to investors declined an interview.

The result is a series that peels back the layers of international real estate investments in Cleveland neighborhoods.

Part 1: These houses caused problems for Cleveland tenants and neighbors. The landlords were 6,000 miles away in Sweden.

Part 2: A Swedish company sold Cleveland as a plum real estate deal. Investors and residents say they were left to clean up a mess

Part 3: What happened to some Cleveland houses that went to overseas investors