The economic, political, technological, cultural and market forces that we have predicted for the last 15 years have matured and tightened their grip over virtually every aspect of the American real estate industry. The complex three tier Realtor® structure has at the same time, due in great part to its resistance to adapt to this new environment, continued to suffer from a growing lack of relevancy. Unless immediate steps are taken to realign, restructure or reposition the various parts of the Realtor® movement, some or all of the three levels will fall by the wayside. On a national level the NAR is working overtime to create a contemporary relevancy through the vision and energy of its 21st Century Initiatives. The jury is still out as to what extent each initiative will succeed. On a state-by-state level the generally more limited focus on government affairs by state Realtor® associations have made it the most threatened of the three levels. But it is within the "rubber meets the road" environment of the local Realtor® association that the impending "irrelevancy" question is fast approaching epidemic levels. Membership levels are either dropping or merely hanging on as a result of "mandatory" MLS participation while "real" participation is dropping fast. Many member services have become non-essential and leadership is becoming more and more disconnected with what needs to be done. In other words, the Realtor® movement that exists today is on the brink of irrelevancy.
A recent study for CareerBuilder (careerbuilder.com) reported that one in 10 Americans surveyed is currently working more than one job and an astounding 61% are living from paycheck to paycheck. The ranks of the real estate industry are no exception. The slumping economy and housing market, fueled by fierce competition, are forcing many agents to rethink their career choice. The once heady market now has them scrambling for supplemental income or leaving the industry altogether. History has shown that even in good times only one in four agents make it past their first year and with the boom days of 2001 to 2006 long gone the ranks are shrinking by the month.
Change is tough. We all know that but it is even harder when decisions that impact change and your future need to be made by a group or committee. Some say it is actually impossible and that change invariably comes from external sources. Existing players can invest in game changes but they can’t really be game changers themselves — or so they say. It is because of that very premise, which has been proven correct more often than not, has now been challenged by no one other a 100-year old, unwieldy association — the National Association of Realtors®. In August 2009 the NAR instituted the Game Changers Challenge, challenging its 1,500 local Realtor® Boards, State Association of Realtors® and Institutes, Societies and Councils. They were charged with creating new benefits and the NAR encouraged state and local associations to develop a new perspective towards day-to-day work, focus on the value of finding new ideas and formulate them to answer the challenge. These game changing ideas must have an impact on the association, a new product, program, process or service that would improve the organization.