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Realtors persevere through trying 2008
400 North Board focused on positives
Realty 1
400 North Board of Realtors President Janet Kitchens honors Jim French with a $1 million sales award. French is no stranger to the honor, having already been awarded both a Phoenix and Crystal Award, for 10 and 20 years of earning the $1 million honor. French is also a five-time winner of the Realtor of the Year award. - photo by Jennifer Sami
There was just one thing Janet Kitchens could say after her year as president of the 400 North Board of Realtors.

“I’m not alone in being happy 2008 is over,” Kitchens said during the group’s annual awards luncheon Friday.

In 2008, not only did home sales drop, but so did the organization’s membership. But as she has through the past year, Kitchens focused on the positives.

“I had no idea we were going to go through what we did,” she said. “I know it’s not over yet ... but look around. We’re still here. We’re still standing.”

During the awards ceremony, 22 Realtors were honored with the $1 million award, which recognizes $1 million in sales for the year.

A dozen received the $2 million award for the year and the $3 million award went to six members. Only Joy Walker received the $5 million award.

In 2005, the group’s awards were presented for individual annual sales totals ranging from $8 million to $15 million.

In 2006, 69 agents were honored with the $1 million award and 37 for $3 million in sales.

Member Dana Bauguss, who is also president-elect of the Georgia Association of Realtors, attended the luncheon.

“2005 and 2006 were the peaks of the market, and then it started dropping,” Bauguss said. “We’ve had the largest drop last year and it’s continuing into this year.

“I do see it turning around though. I manage 116 agents in Gwinnett County and our phones have started ringing. And in December, there was a 6.5 percent increase nationally.”

The drop in awards also reflects a decline in board membership, which began in July 2008 when the board had 901 members. As of last month, there were 780.
Maintaining and increasing membership is a goal for Elaine Thomas, 2009 board president.

“Membership is down because business is down,” she said. “... But we’re going to try to retain as many members as we can and hope they’ll stick it out.

“I don’t think we’ve hit the bottom yet, but ... now is a great time to buy a home.”

Thomas this year received a Phoenix Award, an honor given to Realtors who have been in the $1 million sales club for 10 years.

Among the other honorees were the Integrity Team’s Ellie White and Shirley Williams, who earned Crystal Awards for 20 years in the $1 million club.

Sam Booth was named Rookie of the Year and Chuck Jonaitis was named Realtor of the Year for the second time, the first coming in 2003.

E-mail Jennifer Sami at