Starting this September 1, something very exciting will be happening in more than 50 REALTOR® communities across the country.  September 1 is the date that the Pinnacle Group Project, an extraordinary experience for REALTOR® associations, including HAR, is set to begin.  Although only a few months old, this project has already earned and, based on its current momentum, will continue to earn the term “exciting” as it tackles the challenge of reinventing the state and local REALTOR® association.

Even the genesis of the Pinnacle Group Project was exciting with respect to the focus and pace with which it has been brought to life. During the past six months, thanks to the efforts of its development team and the foresight and vision of association leaders and executives across the country, the program has gone from concept to reality.

The project actually began on two totally different fronts early in the fall of 2011. New York Times bestselling author, publisher and industry consultant Stefan Swanepoel had begun the process of organizing and preparing his annual real estate industry trends publication for 2012. The Swanepoel Trends Report is a document that at one point or another appears on virtually every executive management desk in the industry.

As his research moved across the industry landscape capturing trends and directions, Swanepoel began to notice that references to REALTOR® associations were less frequent, and that when comments were made, they were increasingly less than complimentary and were often accompanied by depreciating comments such as “well, you know how they are.”

Swanepoel began to ask more pointed questions about the role of the REALTOR® association. It quickly became apparent that something was wrong with this almost 100-year-old industry institution. A Trends Report research initiative was launched with the objective of discovering what role the REALTOR® association was playing in the contemporary American real estate industry.

The picture that emerged was one of an entity that was clearly not keeping pace with a changing industry.  Members were no longer accessing many of its traditional programs, products and services. An increasing number of emerging member needs were not being addressed.  The research strongly suggested that the state and local REALTOR® association was becoming irrelevant. When the 2012 edition of the Swanepoel Trends Report was published in February, its top trend was reported as REALTOR® Associations: On the Brink of Irrelevancy.
By coincidence, I had also been observing the fact that many state and local REALTOR® associations were neither monitoring nor preparing to meet the challenges of the an industry that was emerging from seven years of historic levels of challenge, transition and change. I had shared my observations and concerns with NAR CEO Dale Stinton. As the industry’s senior association executive, Stinton carefully tracks state and local associations and has long been an advocate of the important role that they can play in the industry.

In January 2012, Swanepoel and I were joined by Jim Sherry, a veteran industry executive and visionary, and the Pinnacle Group Project was created.

Early on, the decision was made to fuse the Pinnacle Group Project with a full participant program comprised of onsite presentations and interactions, online participatory elements such as blogs, webinars and forums, and an interactive stream of intellectual consciousness. It quickly became obvious that materials of this nature covering the latest and most probable industry trends and directions were not available and that virtually all of the project’s materials would have to be developed from scratch.  During the past 90 days, a team comprised of some of the best minds in the industry has been working non-stop to bring to the project extraordinary insights, knowledge and opportunities. The results to date have been most impressive.

But perhaps most exciting of all is what has been happening on the collaboration front. To date, the leaders and executives from more than 50 associations have stepped forward to become part of the project both as its initial class and as contributors. For many, their commitment has been nothing short of a leap of faith. Everyone seemed to understand that this is something that needed to happen. For some, the lack of specifics in terms of process and destination represented an extra challenge. That hurdle has been jumped and it has become obvious that the Pinnacle Group Project will comprise the most extensive collection and offering of contemporary REALTOR® association expertise ever.

The project has become an opportunity for the chief elected officers and association executives of some of the finest organizations in the country to come together to solve not only the unique challenges facing REALTOR® associations, but, more importantly, some of the challenges facing the real estate industry as it moves into the uncharted waters of its future.

Another one of the Pinnacle program’s inspirational elements comes from the fact that it enjoys the sponsorship of both the National Association of REALTORS® and state and local REALTOR® associations around the country. Every day, more and more industry leaders are coming forward to invest in and engage the subject of creating and innovating a new course for REALTOR® associations.

The Pinnacle Group Project is focused on creating a new breed of REALTOR® associations that can position themselves to support REALTORS® and brokerages in the emerging American real estate community, marketplace and transaction. For some, the Pinnacle Group Project is a continuation of a great REALTOR® institution that is working to make itself relevant to the industry’s future. For others, it is the beginning of a new era in which the REALTOR® association celebrates its legacy by moving from being a cultural icon to assuming the role of a key part of the real estate industry solution for those who are investing in the industry, delivering real estate services and discovering the opportunities of being a contemporary real estate consumer.

It is all about contribution, collaboration, creativity and innovation. It is about a task that’s time has arrived. It is about honoring and stimulating a cause that is a big deal to all of us. It is about your community’s future and your industry’s destiny. Most importantly, it is about you.