Lange had been UpstreamRE’s president and CEO since June 1, 2016. In February 2019, the company announced that it had selected real estate data and analytics firm CoreLogic as the new vendor of its long-in-development data management platform, which aims to provide a centralized point of entry for broker data.
National Association of Realtors (NAR) subsidiary Realtors Property Resource (RPR) was previously the vendor for the beleaguered Upstream, which first launched in May 2018, after two years of delays and turned out to be defective. NAR had spent $13 million of its members’ dues over three years on the project, before cutting ties in December 2018.
Lange told Inman via email that he announced his departure to the Upstream Executive Committee in early October and started as the CEO of Forbes Global Properties that same month.
“I am full-time at Forbes but will assist the Upstream initiative in any way I can for as long as they like, free of charge,” he said.
In a press release, former Upstream chairman Dan Elsea said, “Alex has done a great job of navigating Upstream from a conversation about significant problems to be solved in our industry closer to a live product that will enhance each broker’s ability to organize and build their business.”
Asked how he felt about his time at Upstream and if he would have done anything differently, Lange said, “If I could do anything differently, I would have renegotiated the terms with RPR or moved to CoreLogic earlier. The incentives could have been better aligned, and the sentiment regarding RPR was too polarizing. Great team, but there was too much political ‘noise’ to facilitate conversations with the MLS community. The move to CoreLogic made a huge difference.”
In the release, Upstream said it would roll out its “first features in select markets in 2021” without specifying the markets or when in 2021 the platform would launch. Reached by email, Upstream chairman Craig Cheatham told Inman that Upstream is “ready to deploy in several markets” via MLSs including the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR), Realcomp, Stellar MLS, Gulf South Real Estate Information Network (GSREIN) and West Penn MLS.
“Brokers in those MLSs can reach out to Upstream now to begin the setup process for their own operation and for integration of all their vendors,” Cheatham said. “Upstream will be reaching out to brokers in markets that are ready to offer them the chance to begin benefitting from Upstream.
“We expect CRMLS [California Regional MLS] to finish the steps necessary for brokers participating in that MLS to have access to Upstream’s initial modules in 2021, as well. This deployment includes listing enhancements (high-resolution, non-watermarked photos), managing distribution to partners using preconfigured loads and managing sophisticated rosters.
“The CoreLogic team is developing our ‘universal add/edit’ module next and we hope to announce the deployment of that functionality before the end of 2021.”
Cheatham added that Upstream would not name another CEO. “When CoreLogic partnered with Upstream, we gained a large team and tremendous resources that positioned us to transition from our current staffing model,” he said.
Instead, Upstream has hired David Gumpper of real estate consulting firm WAV Group to take over some of Lange’s previous work, including serving as Upstream’s liaison to the CoreLogic development team, facilitating communication and onboarding of brokers and vendors, product planning, deployment prioritization, serving as the point person for workflow, securing participation agreements, educating brokers, MLSs and vendors on the benefits of the project and keeping the Upstream board up-to-date on progress, Cheatham said.
Forbes Global Properties launched on December 11 as a “curated consumer marketplace that connects discerning buyers directly to the world’s finest homes and the elite agents that represent them,” the company told Inman via email.
“As Forbes’ exclusive worldwide real estate partner, Forbes Global Properties is prominently featured in a new real estate section on forbes.com, accessible from the top-level navigation,” Lange said.
“We have a dedicated brand page where our members’ luxury homes are presented to Forbes’ readers alongside engaging editorial, targeted advertisements and unique insights from industry experts.
“Magazine, newsletter, digital and social media advertisements — offered to members at highly discounted rates — also showcase our members’ homes to Forbes readership across the globe.”
The site targets luxury properties over $2 million, though that figure varies some based on location, and about half of the “thousands” of listings on the site are international, the company said.
Brokerages are admitted to the Forbes Global Properties membership network by invitation only and the size of the network will be capped at an estimated 100 brokerages. Each member gets exclusive rights to use the Forbes Global Properties brand in their market.
“We are focusing on destinations worldwide with concentrations of luxury homes as our venues for member brokerages; our members are brokerages selling at the top-end of their respective markets,” Lange said.
“We typically seek firms that specialize in luxury sales, have stellar reputations in their markets, and are one of the top firms by sales volume. We additionally consider ownership dynamics and how a firm might dovetail into our exclusive network. In short, the selection process is bespoke.”
Agents can also advertise a luxury home on the site, for a fee, in a market where Forbes Global Properties doesn’t have an exclusive member.
“We encourage non-members to advertise their luxury homes, which typically need to exceed $5 million USD and be considered a luxury home in that market,” Lange said.
“For example, $5 million buys you something entirely different in Hong Kong than Lake Tahoe. Even then, our staff review and approve the listing before it can appear on Forbes Global Properties to ensure we’re presenting the best-of-the-best luxury homes from around the world.”
Lange said Forbes Global Properties was owned primarily by “a handful of brokerages worldwide” as well as Forbes, but declined to name the brokerages.
“Our initial sources of revenue are dues from our members and listing fees from agents in nonmember locations to advertise and showcase their distinguished properties,” Lange said.
“As the exclusive worldwide real estate partner of Forbes, we license the brand from Forbes and offer branding and marketing services to our members. Members are permitted to use the Forbes Global Properties brand in their local markets and benefit from exclusive access to our advertising and marketing services. Over time, we will introduce additional revenue sources derived from the qualified traffic we expect the site to achieve.”
Founder Jeff Hyland of brokerage Hilton & Hyland described the site as akin to Zillow for the uber-rich in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
“Unlike other branded real estate groups, Forbes Global Properties is not merely a listing tool for agents — it offers direct and measurable access to potential high-net-worth buyers through Forbes’ worldwide media penetration,” Hyland said in a press release.
Mike Federle, CEO of Forbes, said in a statement that the Forbes brand is recognized worldwide as “the benchmark of success.”
“Every month, we engage more than 140 million people deeply interested in luxury, travel and real estate [on forbes.com],” he said. “Forbes Global Properties is a natural extension of our brand and, under Bonnie and Jeff’s leadership, will become the definitive global marketplace for exclusive, high-end properties.”
Lange said his first priority will be to continue to grow the Forbes Global Properties member network and “provide an infrastructure that extends concierge service to those members.”
The network will allow member agents to collaborate and transact “without the imposition of referral fees,” the company said.
Moreover, the site’s listings will appear alongside “compelling editorial and market trends” written by Forbes contributors with input from members.
“The site is instrumented to gather behavioral analytics and build intelligent profiles on visiting consumers,” Lange said. “Participating brokerages and their agents have access as part of their membership, and they can ‘drill down’ at both the contact and the listing level.”
Lange said a recruiter approached him in early August on behalf of the firm.
“I was attracted to the Forbes brand, the founding members of Jeff Hyland and Bonnie Sellers, and the team they assembled,” Lange said. “It is the culmination of my entire career, dealing with listing management, brokerage relationships and demand generation.”