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5 Technical Benefits to Upstream

by Victor Lund on June 6, 2017

Upstream

I think that a lot of people are confused about Upstream. Some people think that it is a consumer-facing site like the Broker Public Portal/Homesnap. Others think that it is some kind of broker owned MLS. It is none of those things. It is a database for brokers to create, store, and distribute data. For the most part, every large firm and franchise organization is doing this today, but as an industry the process is broken. Every broker who is managing their data is doing it in different ways, and their data is not interoperable with applications without custom integration, data conversion, and data migration. Smaller firms have nothing, or they outsource it to a part time vendor. Upstream fixes all of this by delivering a solution for all brokers that better built, comes with support, provides security, gives brokers complete control over data access, and is less costly. Moreover, it makes their data a lot more valuable because it can be instantly put to work as easily as turning on a light switch. Upstream is the result of compiling the needs of brokers. The broker industry leaders and technologists developed Upstream to streamline and address inefficiencies that plague each and every one of them. Here are 5 technology benefits that Upstream provides that have nothing to do with listings. Upstream removes Vendor Dependencies Upstream Mitigates Technology Talent Challenges Upstream allows differentiation at scale and speed Upstream is fundamental to custom solutions Upstream simplifies the technology stack Vendor dependencies plague real estate brokers today. Each technology vendor organizes the customer record, and firm record with no consideration for inter-operability. For example, if a firm wanted to move from one marketing solution to another, from one CRM to another; or one transaction system to another, etc – the data migration is challenging and expensive. Upstream imagines a new path that separates the data from the application, this allows firms to run in parallel or to switch vendors without data loss. The scale effect of Upstream is significant. Since brokers representing over half of our industry are behind it, vendors will connect to open the doors to addressing that market. Over time, brokers will be able to migrate across vendors or support vendor of choice for their agents in a much better way. Brokers have technology talent challenges. Database engineers and managers who understand the complexity of managing real estate data are […]

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Upstream Adjusts and Improves

by Victor Lund on May 31, 2017

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WAV Group has played a humble role in the evolution of Upstream from a concept to where it is today. The effort has been shaped by the deep involvement of leading technologists from across the brokerage and franchise community. This week, we have been pummeled by questions arising out of their recent announcement during the 2017 Midyear REALTORS LEGISLATIVE MEETINGS & TRADE EXPO in Washington D.C. Upstream is a bright concept for improving data management in real estate today. If you understand the laws of America, you understand that Licensed Real Estate Brokers supervise agent and consumer real property transactions and are responsible for the data involved. This is a serious legal obligation. The law requires that the supervising broker protects the consumer’s interest as it relates to data collected during the process of representing the consumer. The procuring brokerage is fully liable for its practices with all data – listing data, consumer records, and agent records. Upstream is the most advanced broker data management software in real estate. The very best way for Upstream to communicate with any other MLS databases or Vendor databases is by using APIs. Application Programming Interfaces are the most modern and accepted methods for managing the exchange of data. This is not a disparaging comment against MLS systems – they are excellent too. However, with some exceptions like FlexMLS by FBS, they are slow to adopt APIs until this year. Today’s modern MLS systems are highly sophisticated applications that are customized to an MLS area. They are the data repositories that allow brokers to share data in a fair and orderly way. They have common rules that govern the relationships between firms and how data may be used through shared MLS services. The only commonly designated method for using MLS data was IDX – Internet data exchange. IDX is the concept that allows brokers who are participants in an MLS to display other members’ listings. That one-way push has evolved beautifully over the years to include full MLS data pulls, Virtual Office Website data pulls, and IDX pulls using an industry specific construct called RETS – Real Estate Transaction Standard. Thanks to the inspired efforts of the volunteers and staff of the Real Estate Standards Organization, nearly every MLS in America has launched API access for the first time! This is a really big deal. Shaping the data inside an MLS system to a […]

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Upstream May Go Both Ways

by Victor Lund on April 27, 2017

Upstream Logo

April 10th marked a big transition for Upstream RE, the broker driven effort to develop a data management system for all firms. As you may know, there are three components to Upstream – data input, data storage, and data distribution. It is also important to remind you what Upstream is not – it’s not an MLS, not a consumer site, and not a data share. Upstream is a replacement for the independent efforts of all 86,000 real estate brokers to manage their customer records, agent records, firm records, vendor records, and listing records. The big transition is the consideration of two-way sync with MLSs. One of the challenges to the early stage thesis of Upstream was that it only spoke to the MLS one way. Data entered into Upstream would be pulled by the MLS or MLS(s). There was no flaw with this original thesis; it was a stylistic choice that had many merits like a single interface, flexibility to offer non-MLS fields, accommodation for other data sets that the MLS does not manage, and so forth. There is also a philosophy that supports the best practice for copyright management. All of that aside, real estate works from the MLS out today. The data in the MLS is the heartbeat for brokers and agents representing consumers. The MLS has evolved over decades and will continue to be the most important distribution destination for a firm’s records. Evolving the connection between the MLS and Upstream may serve to strengthen the role of both Upstream and the MLS. Although there are issues to consider with both paradigms. From a data perspective, the forward-looking relationship between Upstream and MLSs will be similar to an MLS data share. Today there are cross market and cross platform data shares between all vendors – CoreLogic, FlexMLS, Rapattoni, Black Knight, and others. The bi-directional data flow between these systems works just fine, and Upstream could be just another data share. The problem with two-way sync is handling conflicts when the data is different. For a long time now, our industry has witnessed the war between those who want a national MLS and those who believe that such a system is absurd. Regardless of where you opine in that battle, you must agree that MLSs that “talk” to each other will have the same practical result as a large regional or national MLS without the sacrifice of local determination […]

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Zillow Group Buys Bridge to Go Upstream

by Victor Lund on August 16, 2016

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Zillow Group announced the purchase of Bridge Interactive, making them the provider of listing input in a number of MLSs, and the data distribution manager in many others. In some ways, Bridge Interactive is like Upstream, but not a competitor. Bridge is about helping brokers solve data problems and may become a conduit that more easily permits Upstream to allow brokers to deliver listing content to MLSs. Throughout the process of developing the Request for Proposal for Project Upstream, the technology workgroup evaluated many technology offerings. At the end of the day, there were three pieces to the Upstream puzzle that needed to be put together – Listing Input and Management; Data Repository; and Listing Distribution. Listing input and management is the hardest par, as is it includes the ability to handle the sophistication of an MLS system. Many technology firms have ample Data Repositories so that is not the hard part. Listing distribution is pretty common and not hard either. A stand-alone solution for listing input is rare, most MLS systems have this component baked in. Atlanta-based Bridge Interactive developed a specific application to solve the problem of overlapping market disorder for MLSs, whereby a single listing would go into two or more MLSs. As a case in point, the Atlanta, GA area has two MLS offerings – FMLS and Georgia MLS. Bridge Interactive allows brokers to enter a listing once into Bridge Interactive and publish it in both MLSs, as well as capture additional fields required by the broker. The hard part is supporting the business rules of an MLS or multiple MLSs and resolving them into a single user interface. Zillow Group has had the pieces to Upstream with the combination of Postlets for listing input, their massive data repository, and listing distribution, through both Postlets and Retsly. I would expect that their data repository is equal to or greater than most any data repository in our industry. It certainly is massive and seems to have no trouble with the largest concurrent real estate load in the world. But Postlets was developed for a simpler type of data input – namely input for syndication. Today, Postlets has been re-deployed as the Zillow Rentals Manager and is no longer used for listing input. With Bridge Interactive, Zillow Group has improved their capabilities in listing input significantly. Moreover, they have acquired the team from Bridge, who are among the sharpest in our […]

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SAN FRANCISCO, July 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/— Reflecting the strategic and operational importance of eSignature and Digital Transaction Management (DTM) across the real estate, property management and mortgage industries, thought-leaders Alex Lange from UpstreamRE, Bob Goldberg from National Association of REALTORS®, and Jeremy Crawford from the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) today added their expertise to the xDTM Standard Association’s advisory board. The xDTM Standard provides in-depth guidelines and best practices that Digital Transaction Management vendors should address to create a trusted online environment for their customers, including data ownership, transparency, security and the ability for data integration across applications. This is especially important in the real estate industry, given the standard includes requirements that personal information is used only for the purpose it was intended. This aligns directly with brokers’ and agents’ priority that the data collected be used appropriately and only in a manner to which brokers and agents have consented. “Standards are integral to the health of the real estate industry – they lay the foundation for improved collaboration between parties and promote efficiency in real estate transactions,” said Jeremy Crawford, Executive Director at the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO). “We’re pleased to bring our real estate expertise to the xDTM Standard advisory board, and we’re looking forward to working with the group to ensure the right levels of privacy, validity and security are in place for all our members who use eSignature technologies.” The appointment of these new members is testament to the real estate industry’s importance as one of the earliest adopters of eSignature and DTM technology. And it comes at a time when the xDTM Standard Association is seeing increased interest from the sector to ensure improvements in technology can benefit brokers, agents, buyers, sellers and everyone involved in the complete transaction – from listing to close. “All digital transactions – especially real estate transactions, which contain some of the most sensitive and time-sensitive information – will benefit from the xDTM Standard,” said Alex Lange, CEO, UpstreamRE. “UpstreamRE is thrilled to join the xDTM Standard Association advisory board and further the work of the body to foster trusted digital transaction environments that allow for choice, privacy, flexibility, security and control – critical elements for brokers, agents and their clients.” More than 300 companies already endorse the xDTM Standard – with several prominent Board of Governors including individuals from SAP, BASF, Dow Jones, News Corp, Visa, Intel, Hewlett Packard, FedEx, NBC Universal, DocuSign, the United States Postal Service, BuckleySandler, […]

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Upstream Update From CMLS

by Victor Lund on April 12, 2016

CMLS gets the scoop on this latest UpstreamRE release. Kathy Condon of CMLS was able to connect with UpstreamRE spokesperson Craig Cheatham to catch up on the progress made on the development side in the first three months of the year since the vendor agreement was signed. As a reminder, CMLS is hosting a “bring it to the table” meeting on Tuesday, May the 10th in Washtington D.C. For those of you attending the NAR Midyear meetings – you may want to fly in a day early for this meeting. It’s one of the best ways to get a 360 degree review of all of the presessing issues in the world of MLS. It sells out fast – so visit the Council of MLS website today to reserve your spot http://councilofmls.com/cmls-opens-brings-it-to-the-table-priority-registration-for-members/ From The CMLS President……. Shortly after the Project Upstream concept was first revealed last year, CMLS promised to keep you informed about the status of this initiative and seek collaboration with the developers in order to share member knowledge and experience. I am pleased to report that our organization has met these objectives. CMLS Past President Shelley Specchio, CEO of Northern Nevada Regional MLS, has been invited to serve on the Technology Work Group that monitors the development of Upstream. Her involvement will play a critical role in ensuring the MLS industry has a voice in the development of this software and provide an early opportunity to review it in an effort to develop best practices and member standards upon its adoption. Her work will not be alone. According to the first Upstream Update that was sent exclusively to CMLS from Upstream officially, some brokers are participating in initial testing along with their MLS organizations. Their involvement will incorporate MLS business rules into the system. Upstream has also committed to provide us with regular updates. While this represents phenomenal progress in developing a collaborative relationship with Upstream, it is important to note that CMLS has still not taken a positon, nor have we attempted to predict the potential impact of this project on MLSs and the industry at large. It is still too early to do any of these things. Our commitment remains consistent in supporting innovations that improve the ability of our members to better serve their constituents by ensuring an orderly marketplace with cooperation and compensation among brokers. We will continue to explore innovations that provide for the […]

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