Last week, it was announced that the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) signed an agreement with Upstream™. Keller Williams Vice President of Industry Development Cary Sylvester said the new agreement is “revolutionary.” She added, “For the first time since the formation of the MLS system, the entire real estate industry is working together to create an environment that supports innovation.”
So, What is Upstream?
There are currently more than 800 MLS organizations across the United States. Each of these 800 MLSs, in addition to facilitating the cooperation and compensation of local brokers and setting local policies, stores and distributes real estate data across the web. While governing local policy is an invaluable, and irreplaceable, responsibility of the MLS, the negative side effect of the multitude of channels sharing listing data is confusion and the distribution of inaccurate or outdated information. The real estate industry is fragmented and has lost its leverage in negotiating power.
In an effort to streamline the management of listing data, a coalition of brokerages, networks and national franchisors united to create a centralized data repository of listing information—known as Upstream. The goal of Upstream is to reorder the flow of information through the creation of a central database for agents to enter, store, modify and then distribute their listing information where they choose—connecting real estate firms with the recipients of real estate data (such as MLS organizations, personal websites, syndication sites and more). However, Upstream isn’t just about syndication, it is about efficiency, accuracy and fostering innovation.
In 2014, Upstream created UpstreamRE, LLC, an industry owned and controlled data management company governed by a Board of Managers. In order to ensure that every type of company has a voice in Upstream, the Board of Managers has seats for representatives of small firms, medium-sized firms, large firms, and networks and franchisors. Each manager will be elected by Upstream participants on an ongoing basis. Keller Williams has a seat on this board.
Upstream will not have any consumer-facing website—so it will not be competing with syndication sites like Zillow and Trulia. Upstream will not be an MLS or an MLS vendor—so it will not be involved in the cooperation or compensation of local real estate brokers or any local policies. Instead, Upstream will only focus on efficiently managing listing information and all data needed to run a real estate brokerage.
To accelerate development, as aforementioned, Upstream has entered into a technology agreement with the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and Realtors Property Resource (RPR), the data analytics and reporting subsidiary of NAR. NAR will provide startup funding, administrative support and marketing services to launch Upstream using RPR software services. Upstream will provide product direction and retain governance of Project Upstream through the Board of Managers.
Why Should Agents Care About Upstream?
Ultimately, Upstream will offer agents a simplified data entry process and control over the distribution of their listings. This will ensure not only that accurate listing information is distributed, but also that each agent can decide when and where to send their listings. It offers protection to agents, brokers and consumers and it is why Keller Williams has been working with Upstream from the very beginning.