Upstream has company. The nation’s second-largest MLS system provider has come up with a tool to address the thorny problem of broker data management — from within the MLS.

  • Black Knight has rolled out Paragon for Brokers, a tool within the Paragon MLS system that can serve as a "single point of entry" for broker data.
  • Company exec Chip McAvoy says the tool is "complementary" to Upstream.
  • P4B also offers broker branding within the MLS, customized communication with agents, support of broker-exclusive listings, and integration with a broker's third-party applications and back-office systems.

Upstream has company.

The nation’s second-largest MLS system provider has come up with a tool to address the thorny problem of broker data management — from within the MLS.

Black Knight Financial Services, maker of the Paragon MLS system, has launched Paragon for Brokers, which “supports real estate brokers’ needs for more differentiation, autonomy and control,” Black Knight said in a press release.

P4B is an optional feature within Paragon that allows brokers to enter listing and other data once and have it populate not only the MLS, but every system the broker uses — including back-office systems and third-party applications — according to the broker’s will.

Chip McAvoy

Chip McAvoy

“The ability to support a broker’s unique business needs within the MLS has quickly become essential in the real estate industry,” said Chip McAvoy, Black Knight’s data and analytics vice president and real estate market leader, in a statement.

“For too long, MLS organizations have had to offer a one-size-fits-all solution, but with the delivery of P4B’s innovative new features and functionality, we can provide brokers with the flexibility they need.”

In addition to the data fields required by the MLS, brokers will also be able to create custom data fields for their own use and require their agents to fill them out.

Paragon for Brokers “[s]upports a single point of entry for data by allowing brokers to add and manage unique broker-specific data for each of their listings, eliminating the need to collect the data separately,” the company said.

Sound familiar? That’s because broker-backed multimillion-dollar initiative Upstream proposes to do the same thing, though that isn’t all it hopes to do.

So is P4B a competitor?

McAvoy told Inman he views the two products as “complementary.”

“I don’t think that we replace and do everything that Upstream is doing. We do a certain set of things and we’re available to provide those capabilities. Brokers may choose to want Upstream and Paragon for Brokers,” he said.

“They’re different solutions, but I think they’re both trying to address the problems of the brokerages,” he added.

More than 200 MLSs representing more than 260,000 agent and broker members currently use Paragon.

Black Knight will work with Upstream to pull data into Paragon to accommodate brokers that choose to use Upstream, McAvoy said.

But he did touch on some differences between the products: Paragon for Brokers is available now, doesn’t require additional software, can be ready to go live for a broker in a month or less and, most notably, is already built into agents’ most important tool — the MLS.

“The reality is everybody uses the MLS today,” McAvoy said.

“Maybe they’ll use an Upstream or a back-office product to [enter data], but why not just use the MLS to do it?” It’s a tool agents know and are trained on, he said.

Upstream CEO Alex Lange did not respond to a request for comment by publication time.

Black Knight joins Zillow Group companies Bridge Interactive and dotloop, among others, that are attempting to address the issue of brokers and their agents entering and re-entering listing data in various systems.

More than data management

Paragon for Brokers also offers capabilities beyond data management, some of which may allow brokers to either get rid of other software or more efficiently use third-party tools.

These are P4B’s features:

– Broker branding within the MLS and for reports generated within the MLS, including the firm’s colors and logo.

– Customizable communication with agents, including a meeting and event calendar only visible to a firm’s agents and custom pop-up messages to agents when they log onto the MLS.

– Support of broker-exclusive listings, allowing an agent to market a property within his or her firm for a set period of time (according to MLS rules) before the listing’s status automatically changes to make it available to everyone else in the MLS.

– Integration with each broker’s third-party applications and back-office systems. Black Knight currently has integrations in place with more than 60 vendors, including dotloop, zipForms, Instanet, ShowingTime, Cloud CMA and Walk Score.

Unlike Upstream, P4B will not syndicate listings to third-party portals such as Zillow and realtor.com. P4B will not affect the syndication arrangements Paragon MLSs currently have, McAvoy said.

– Broker-specific data fields, visible only to agents within the firm and filled out when the agent is entering a listing into the MLS according to the broker’s business rules.

For example, a broker may want to know where a lead came from. P4B can be set up so that an agent can’t save a listing unless he or she has entered the lead’s source. At the broker’s request, P4B will distribute the data in those unique fields back to the broker, most likely to his or her back-office system, McAvoy said.

– Listing reports with layouts customized by the broker. “Let’s say you have a boutique broker and he’s focused on high-end listings in San Francisco,” McAvoy said.

“They can optimize the layout of the listing reports to focus on the information they want to present to their clients. They might want a photo to take up half the page on the listing or have multiple photos. [Someone] in rural Wyoming [selling] ranches might want a completely different layout to optimize the report to their client.”

– A broker-customized dashboard that agents can see when they log into the MLS.

Beta tested

Paragon for Brokers’s cost to brokers will depend on the size of the brokerage, McAvoy said.

Though site licenses are available to MLSs to make the product available to all of their members, he anticipates that brokers will most likely choose to buy the product separately.

Dave DeRees

Dave DeRees

Michigan’s largest broker-owned MLS, MiRealSource, beta-tested P4B starting in the first quarter. The 20 brokers in the beta test and an additional 30 brokers have all signed up for P4B, MiRealSource CEO Dave DeRees told Inman.

“[P4B’s] capabilities are impressive, and we found that it delivers the tools brokers need to reinforce their brand and support specific business needs while remaining within the Paragon MLS system they already use,” DeRees said in a statement.

“As had been the case with Paragon itself, Black Knight worked closely with our members in the beta program to implement the P4B product, and we had no issues learning how to leverage its many features.”

According to Clareity’s most recent MLS satisfaction survey, Black Knight’s Paragon system had the highest end-user and staff satisfaction rating among systems with more than 10 MLS customers, beating FBS, CoreLogic and Rapattoni.

McAvoy said he gave Black Knight’s MLS customers credit.

“Our MLS customers have been very open and forward thinking in terms of saying, ‘Yes, let’s change the way MLSs work,'” he said.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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