SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — When broker data management platform Upstream goes live, its goal is to be the starting point for real estate data. The “single source of truth” for broker information, entered in one place and distributed to the MLS and other tools at broker discretion. What does that mean on a practical level?

  • If an agent's broker decides to subscribe to Upstream, that agent will no longer be able to enter or update his or her listings in the local MLS.
  • MLSs data compliance rules will be incorporated into Upstream's engine, and MLSs will follow current processes to correct inaccurate information when it's discovered.
  • MLSs will negotiate for all of their members when it comes to tools that need all the market data to work.
  • Upstream development began in fourth quarter and alpha/beta testing will start in select markets in May. Participation will come with a membership-based fee, but the cost is not yet final.

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — When broker data management platform Upstream goes live, its goal is to be the starting point for real estate data. The “single source of truth” for broker information, entered in one place and distributed to the MLS and other tools at broker discretion. What does that mean on a practical level?

It means that if an agent’s broker decides to subscribe to Upstream, that agent will no longer be able to enter or update his or her listings in the local MLS, Cary Sylvester, a Keller Williams vice president and Upstream board member, told Inman.

Sylvester talked about Upstream at the Clareity MLS Executive Workshop Thursday.

Afterwards, Inman caught up to her via email and asked for some clarification on a few questions asked by attendees.

Rules compliance and who corrects errors

MLSs will continue to make their own compliance rules for data, which will be incorporated into Upstream’s rules engine, Sylvester said.

“The engine is dynamic and being designed to not require custom coding to accommodate new rules — meaning Upstream won’t slow down new rules from going into place,” she said.

So what happens when a broker or agent enters something inaccurately in Upstream?

“We expect this to work as it does today — when the MLS finds information that is not compliant, they will follow their current process to notify the agent to rectify the information,” Sylvester said.

“If the current workflow includes the MLS updating the information, then they will have those rights to do so within Upstream. If the current process is for the agent to make the updates, then the agent will update the listing in Upstream, which will then be pulled into the MLS.”

But there will be a significant change. Once a broker moves to Upstream, all listings will be added and edited in Upstream and then pulled into the MLS, and there will be no more updating in the MLS directly, Sylvester said. This means that the MLS will be required to turn off their system’s add/edit function when an Upstream broker and an agent who belongs to an Upstream brokerage firm logs into their MLS.

“Each MLS software implementation will be different in the ‘how,’ but from a practical level, we will have the MLS turn off the ability to add/edit from their software once a broker moves to Upstream,” Sylvester said.

Who handles negotiations with vendors who need all of a market’s data for their apps to work?

One point of confusion that arose during the workshop was whether an MLS would be able to negotiate for all of its broker members when a vendor needed all of the MLS’s data to work properly. W&R Studios’ Cloud CMA tool for comparative market analyses was mentioned, for example.

MLSs will negotiate for all of their members when it comes to tools that need all the market data to work, Sylvester told Inman.

She didn’t want to name specific vendors, products or services that would fall under that rubric yet, saying that would be part of Upstream’s pilot phase.

“Just as we know that IDX is best managed by the local MLS, there may be other facilities that are also best served for the entire market by the MLS,” Sylvester said.

“During the pilot phase, we will map out not only the business rules in the MLS, but also all distribution points for both the MLS and the brokerage and determine the most appropriate break down of distribution.

“One that ensures we have ease of use for the brokers and agents and still puts the authority of distribution back in the broker’s (or agent’s) hands.”

Upstream will have to define what vendors need all market data, she added. “I’m being careful here — for example, every vendor ‘needs’ all of our listings to be successful and the reality is they really don’t,” she said.

Like IDX, Upstream could, at some future date, provide these marketwide feeds, if asked to by the MLS, Sylvester said.

When it comes to vendors that don’t fall into this marketwide category, such as syndication sites, Upstream will handle the broker permissions and feeds, she added.

Pilot

Upstream development began in fourth quarter and alpha/beta testing will start in select markets in May, Sylvester told attendees. Around the end of the year, beta testing will conclude and Upstream will begin to expand to other markets, she said.

As the project’s funding source, the National Association of Realtors has two seats on Upstream’s board of managers. But Upstream members will not have to be members of NAR, Sylvester said.

Participation in Upstream will come with a membership-based fee, whether per-listing or a monthly fee or yearly fee, Sylvester said. The cost has yet to be finalized.

“We have an idea, but the worst thing we can do is share that idea and then it’s set in stone,” she said.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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