Having completed “Phase 0”—a test period with several key brokers—Upstream completed a webinar with approximately 300 real estate technology providers earlier today in preparation to roll out Phase 1 later this summer: an official launch of the broker data management platform with vendors on board.
During Phase 1, brokers will begin to upload listings into Upstream through their MLS feeds, enhancing them with unlimited high-fidelity photos and videos; they will also have the ability to upload their firm record.
In an exclusive interview, Upstream President and CEO Alex Lange lauded partner CoreLogic’s speed and prowess in bringing the platform to market. “They have been an amazing partner in moving so quickly,” says Lange. “They turned around and put teams together the first day, and said, ‘let’s go.’”
Lange explains that the transition from Realtors Property Resource® (RPR®) to CoreLogic in February 2019 didn’t mean starting from scratch, but rather, taking the existing code to build a new product for Upstream, which will be powered by CoreLogic’s MLS data management tool, Trestle. “It’s separate instances of code and separate databases,” explains Lange. “But if you’ve written what you need to for Trestle, you’re 99 percent there.”
For technology providers, the benefits of signing on with Upstream are many, however, the highlights include:
- Free access
- The ability to pool all of a broker’s data across all of their clients
- The ability to receive high-fidelity and non-watermarked assets
- The ability to receive a detailed firm record
For vendors interested in signing on with Upstream, please visit www.upstreamre.com for instructions.
According to Lange, some are still grappling with understanding exactly what Upstream is and isn’t. Bottom line, Upstream offers three key pieces of functionality for brokers: data input; secure data storage in a single system; and data distribution to vendors. Upstream is not designed to provide aggregate data or to power listing search.
Fundamentally, Upstream is designed to enable a brokerage to manage its listing data and its firm record in one place, specifically, its agent and team rosters, team configurations, non-practitioning staff members, headshots, broker ID, office names and IDs, etc. Currently, brokers enter data with as many as 40 different software vendors, and sometimes several MLS systems.
According to WAV Group, consultant to the Upstream project, “Upstream also supports CRUD – Create, Read, Update, Delete. If an agent has new data like a headshot, they load it into Upstream once, and every connected software system is updated. If some agent changes offices, they make the change once in Upstream, and it is updated everywhere. If a broker adds a new agent, or an agent leaves the brokerage, the change event is notified and updated in every system. This is an enormous benefit to data management efficiency. Today, brokers have onboarding checklists that take about two hours to onboard an agent. With Upstream, it takes minutes. Add or remove the agent from the brokerage, and Upstream reflects the change in the data that updates every system. CRUD happens in near real-time.”
“Here’s the thing,” says Lange. “Brokers have been terrible when an agent leaves, usually waiting until the end of the year to reverse the record. That means the agent still has access to CRMs and all other platforms. With Upstream, all of that becomes instantaneous.”
Brokers will also be able to upload unlimited high-res photos and videos to Upstream. Vendors will then be able to capture these high-fidelity assets from one single source, negating the need to go to numerous MLSs to obtain images or videos, as well as having to deal with low-resolution, watermarked photos that don’t make the grade in luxury marketing vehicles or print publications.
“This is good for a vendor,” says Lange. “When a vendor does a deal with a brokerage that’s in 43 MLSs, they can now go directly to Upstream.”
Upstream also offers brokers a way to securely store their data, which was previously disparately controlled by their various technology vendors. Now, brokers can retain ownership and control of where their data goes by creating multiple feeds—or payloads—through Upstream, sending each vendor only the information it needs, when it needs it, as opposed to a full data dump. The implications for streamlining processes, safeguarding data, and targeting marketing opportunities are significant.
Lange emphasizes that Upstream is designed to be vendor-friendly in order to foster innovation in real estate technology. “A lot of great start-ups just don’t make it because they run out of gas. We’re a broker-driven, paid-for platform. We’re not allowed to make a profit. If we’re really going to inspire innovation, then we have to make it easy for vendors to work with us.”
Technology firms (like a virtual tour company) that only need a broker’s data (not an entire MLS data base), Upstream saves time and money by eliminating the cumbersome process of three-way agreements with MLSs and vendors as well as the need to map to multiple APIs, Upstream hopes to reduce operational costs for tech vendors, thereby paving the way for reduced product costs for brokers.
After the onboarding of vendors has successfully taken place, Lange expects Phase 2 to happen toward the end of this fall. Phase 2 will involve brokers setting up distribution of information to vendors, then deciding whether to make participation mandatory for agents, or giving them the choice to opt in or out. Phase 3, broadly targeted for early Q2 2020, is when Upstream will “go dark for a little while” as Lange says, as it finalizes capabilities to enter listing information to Upstream first, before the MLS. Phase 4, date yet to be determined, is to add a layer on top so that non-CoreLogic markets can use Upstream as their add/edit options, and Phase 5, somewhere down the road, is to provide access to listing data and rosters.
For now, Lange and his team will prepare to handle the requisite growing pains that will come with the launch. “We have a large number of brokerages representing a large number of agents,” he explains. “Once we start onboarding, we are designed to be very self-serve. They set up their account, set up their MLS, set up their payload, and voila. We’ll have to work through some kinks, no doubt, but we have a great partner who will help us do that.”
For more information, please visit www.upstreamre.com.
Maria Patterson is RISMedia’s executive editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at email@example.com.