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African American businesswoman using computer.While this year has been a big one for Upstream, unveiled to the public last May, 2016 will be even bigger.

Those of us who’ve been involved since the beginning—I’m honored to represent RE/MAX on the Upstream RE board—are eager to fulfill the initiative’s vision and deliver on its promise.

At its core, Upstream is a broker-owned and managed back-end platform that will 1) ensure accurate, standardized data; 2) give brokers control over where and how their data is distributed and displayed; and 3) greatly improve the consumer experience.

Upstream is designed to benefit brokerages of any size, and it’s fueled by a collaborative resolve not seen in our industry since the advent of the MLS. Initial testing in select markets is set for Q2 2016, and Upstream will soon move from the abstract to the real.

Here are six key benefits Upstream will deliver.

1. Efficiency
As a single data entry point, Upstream will provide efficiencies that save brokerages significant amounts of time and money. Brokerages that belong to more than one MLS, for instance, will enter the data once and have it delivered to those MLSs. That’s much more efficient than having to upload data into each MLS separately.

2. Standardization
Upstream will move the industry toward universal use of the data format developed by the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO). A standardized structure will make listing data consistent, portable and more accurate. This step will take time, but Upstream will assist MLSs and others in making the transition.

3. Broker Control
Brokers will have total control over how and where their data is distributed. They will dictate the framework that best serves their business needs and their clients.

4. Consumer Experience
Because data will be updated within the same centralized database into which it’s entered, the information that flows to vendors or portals—and to the consumers they reach—will be accurate and up-to-date at all times. The standardized format will also help consumers learn and understand a common real estate language. On both counts, the result is a far better experience for buyers and sellers.

5. Universal Impact
Upstream’s benefits aren’t limited to one kind of brokerage or another. The platform will serve the interests of franchises, independents, urban firms, rural offices, newcomers, veterans, mom-and-pop shops, mega-brokerages and everything in between.

In the RE/MAX organization, for instance, we have brokerages of every shape and size—our U.S. firms average 18 sales associates—and we view Upstream as a major enhancement for them all.

6. A Bridge to Others
Upstream has no intention of displacing MLSs or developing a national portal. The focus is on providing clean, accurate and timely data to industry partners—not on taking over MLS functions or advertising to the public. Upstream is simply working to ensure that the data being passed along is the highest quality possible.

As with any game-changing movement, Upstream will confront its share of detractors, doubters and challenges along the road. But it will overcome them—because as this revolutionary initiative moves forward, more and more people will recognize the incredible value of what we as an industry can deliver.

Geoff Lewis is president of RE/MAX, LLC.

For more information, visit www.remax.com.

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