Want to learn more about how Upstream works and how the whole project is panning out? Real estate agents can now visit upstreamre.com to review a mission statement and updates on the industry-built real estate data aggregation and distribution platfo

  • Upstream -- an industry-backed data management and distribution platform -- has launched a website designed to provide transparency into the project.
  • In a mission statement on the website, Upstream expressed commitment to cooperating with MLSs and democratic control.

Want to learn more about how Upstream works and how the whole project is panning out?

Real estate agents can now visit upstreamre.com to review a mission statement and updates on the industry-built real estate data aggregation and distribution platform.

On the new website, Upstream — which is currently piloting its platform in a handful of markets — expresses a commitment to transparency, cooperation with multiple listing services (MLSs) and democratic control. The company also lists its board of management and other resources on the site.

In partnership with NAR (National Association of Realtors) subsidiary RPR (Realtors Property Resource), Upstream is building a data entry and collection platform that will function as a middleman between real estate firms and the recipients of their data, which include both MLSs and technology vendors.

Upstream creates a single point of entry for all real estate data and eliminates “duplicative data entry costs” and gives “brokers full control” and to efficiently distribute their data to a “variety of targets,” Upstream says on its website.

The platform offers brokers “the technology leverage needed to manage their costs better, free up resources to innovative and serve customers.” It helps brokers enforce copyright ownership, negotiate optimal “exchange rates” for use of their data and protect their data from hacking, theft and natural disaster, website visitors learn.

Only participating brokers “can determine who receives their data and nobody, including Upstream, RPR or NAR can access without explicit permission,” the website adds.

Unity with MLSs

Some have seen Upstream as a threat to MLSs because the platform aims to collect real estate data, including listing data, “upstream” of the MLS (and everyone else).

But Upstream says on its website that its founders “are united in the belief that the company will not become, nor ever competing with an MLS and have embedded those beliefs into our agreements.”

Upstream — which brokers can use to enter listing data for distribution to their local MLS — will ensure MLS business rules are implemented, data errors are promptly corrected and agent rosters are maintained in compliance with local and state laws, according to the website.

Upstream also described a control structure that offers representation to all corners of the real estate brokerage industry, the website said:

  • “Leadership from all sizes of brokers” will make up its board.
  • Every broker will only have “one unit of membership.”
  • The cost of every unit will be $100 “so as not to create any barriers to entry, and so no member gains an advantage.”

Upstream’s operating agreement purportedly mandates that it “run at a break-even, and provide services as the lowest possible costs.”

The first post in the website’s updates section — which appeared elsewhere before the launch of the site — promised the site would provide an unvarnished window into the progress and inner workings of Upstream.

“I’ve determined our (Upstream) communication with the industry has been far from excellent and has led to misinformation and unwarranted concern,” reads a “Note from the CEO” — who is Alex Lange.

“I am changing how we operate and making the entire initiative as transparent as possible.”

The note added that, “I’m creating both an MLS and Broker advisory group and intentionally add our greatest ‘naysayers.”

Upstream is piloting its platform with five MLSs —  MLS Listings (Sunnyvale, Calif.), RMLS Portland (Oregon), West Penn MLS (Pittsburgh, Pa.), North Texas Real Estate Information Service (NTREIS) and Northstar MLS (Minneapolis) — and a number of brokers.

The company plans to complete beta testing and begin “market expansion” in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to a presentation on Upstream posted on its website’s “updates” section.

Teke Wiggin.

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