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broker_upstreamThe Power Broker Roundtable is brought to you by the National Association of Realtors® and Nick D’Ambrosia, NAR’s Liaison for Large Residential Firms Relations. Watch for this column each month, where we address broker issues, concerns and milestones.

Moderator:
J. Nicholas (Nick) D’Ambrosia, Liaison for Large Residential Firms Relations, NAR; Broker of Record, The Long & Foster Companies, Chantilly, Va.

Participants:
Craig Cheatham, President/CEO, The Realty Alliance, Dallas, Texas
Rei Mesa, President/CEO, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Geoff Lewis, President, RE/MAX LLC, Denver, Colo.
Scott MacDonald, President, RE/MAX Gateway, Chantilly, Va.

Nick D’Ambrosia: Since NAR announced an agreement with UPSTREAM™ to develop a comprehensive, single point of entry platform for real estate data entry, collection and distribution, brokers everywhere have been debating the program’s fine points. In essence, Upstream is a coalition of brokerages, networks and national franchises representing real estate companies of all sizes and business models. Its goal is to leverage NAR’s Realtors Property Resource® (RPR®) database and create a single repository that allows MLSs and brokers and agents to maintain better control of our data. Of interest to brokers is how and when Upstream will ramp up and how it will impact the industry. Craig, as Secretary of the Upstream Board, how would you describe the purpose and/or value of Upstream?

Craig Cheatham: Upstream is great news for agents and brokers and the vendors who support them with products and services that utilize their data. It is, as you said, a centralized platform for entering data one time, in one place, for storing that data securely in the cloud and for efficiently distributing the data—and setting the terms under which that data is used.

Rei Mesa: As REALTORS®,   we provide a valuable product—a product as valuable as one produced by any manufacturer and, like any other manufacturer, we should have the right to manage how and where our listings are displayed and the terms for their licensing and use. Upstream creates the resource for us to do this.

Geoff Lewis: A good analogy, Rei. And I think it’s important to understand that the benefits extend to all brokers across the industry. We all gain the ability to push the data exactly where we want it, adopting uniform data standards whether you report to one MLS or several—and all sources who pull the data will get immediate updates.

Scott MacDonald: The single point of entry platform may be of maximum benefit for brokers and agents who report to multiple MLSs—and, as Geoff points out, the data will be more accurate and consistent.

CC: Upstream has no other agendas and is not set up to have any power other than to support brokers’ individual business decisions. Upstream will have no public interface and will not get involved in core MLS functions.

ND: Can anyone weigh in on the rollout plan?

CC: Although Upstream is a broker platform, we will be bending over backwards to work with willing MLSs to integrate. With so many vendors and data dictionaries, this process almost requires working with MLSs one-by-one.

GL: As I understand it, beta testing will begin in five selected markets by mid-year. MLSs will be brought on one at a time, and total rollout could be completed within a year.

SM: I serve on the advisory board of our large MLS and I can tell you that we very much support the aspirations of Upstream. We are cautiously optimistic that it will improve accuracy as well as the control of our data.

CC: Yes, because decisions will be made by real estate brokers, as they should be. By NAR’s May meetings, I expect we’ll have a lot to report on Upstream’s rollout progress and what we learned from our alpha and beta testing.

ND: The benefits seem to offer a major step forward in the real estate data space. Each of us has a definitive stake in how it begins to play out. You can learn more about Upstream at http://blog.narrpr.com/upstream.

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