By Ryan Velez
Kito Johnson is a success story that anyone could stand to learn from. Broker and CEO of Buy n Sell Inc., Johnson is a serial entrepreneur, seasoned investor, and accomplished real estate broker. With over 1000 transactions under his belt, Johnson has established himself as an educator and mentor to many investors. Notably, he also is founder and host of The Generational Wealth Summit, which brings entrepreneurs and real estate professionals together from the local market and around the country for an all-day event. Johnson recently spoke to Black Enterprise about his past successes and failures.
In fact, Johnson credits loss with getting him involved with entrepreneurship. “My dad is an entrepreneur and risk taker. He was always involved in some business endeavor. He had a general contracting company, concrete business, and even did residential construction. He was always involved in entrepreneurial pursuits, and from that, I guess I got the gene.
We were always on a roller coaster in my household. He would do well in business, and then he would go downhill and make some bad decisions. When I was 13, my dad was on another great streak in business and doing well. He had a new business partner, and he came home one day nearly in tears because he found out that his business partner had stolen $140,000 and disappeared.” He struggled at first with business, folded a company and served as a pastor for a short while, but credits real estate with getting the ball rolling for him.
“At 22-years-old, I ended up marrying, and I moved from my parents’ house into a fixer-upper. I didn’t know anything about investing in real estate. I just had an eye for an opportunity. So, I bought the house. I put the house under contract and hoped to buy it before getting married. When I went to get the loan on the house, I found out I couldn’t get a loan, traditional mortgage, because it was in such disrepair that it didn’t qualify for a conventional mortgage. I ended up negotiating a lease purchase. I leased it from the owner for six months. During that six months, I renovated the house, got a mortgage, bought the house, and my wife and I lived there. Every two years we were moving and using the lease purchase strategy—we were buying something, selling something, and leasing something.”
However, in 2008, Johnson lost everything, his 17 properties, as well as his wife who passed away, leaving him a single dad. It would be working with Atlanta area broker Mark Spain that got Johnson back on the right track, selling 98 houses, $14 million worth of real estate in one year.
Johnson also provided some advice for people thinking of real estate themselves. “It is possible to start wherever you are. Real estate investing starts very much so with one’s mind set and the first thing any individual has to know is that there’s opportunity available to them. And then you begin to build or discover a strategy around where you are. A lot of people fail with real estate investing because they don’t know where they stand. They hear that somebody is wholesaling and they say, “OK, that’s what I need to do.” Or they turn on HGTV, and they think that investing is buying a house and putting money in it and flipping it. Those are just one or two or three of many, many, many strategies. And the way you determine which strategy is best for you is, you first have to sit down and evaluate where you are time, money, and credit-wise.”