Three years after it was announced to the industry, Upstream has launched, first as a direct input in the Regional Multiple Listing Service (RMLS) in Portland, Ore., and as a broker direct feed for the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service (ARMLS) in Phoenix, and Dallas' North Texas Real Estate Information Systems (NTREIS). The Ann Arbor Area Board of REALTORS® in Michigan, the Austin Board of REALTORS® (ABOR) in Texas, the California Regional Multiple Listing Service (CRMLS), NorthstarMLS in Minnesota, Realcomp in Michigan, and West Penn Multi-List in Pennsylvania are all expected to follow.
With the ball now rolling, Upstream anticipates it will add to five to six markets per month—prioritized by broker/MLS participation and market size—and reach 250,000 agents by the end of 2018.
"You don't have to look very far into any news feed to find a story of data breaches, unauthorized or misuse of data or entities gaining disproportionate gains on the sale of data," says Dan Elsea, chairman of Upstream. "Our industry, of course, is based on data, so it is imperative that each broker and real estate practitioner be able to manage and control their data. Upstream provides that opportunity for our industry, and it is wonderful to have our roll-out underway. We want to thank the MLSs and brokers who have worked so hard with all the Upstream partners to put together what is really an unprecedented industry program. Look for Upstream to be coming to your market shortly as we roll out across the country."
To join the platform, brokerages must sign three documents: a Participation Agreement, an MLS Data Agreement, and a Vendor Contract Authorization. The MLS Data Agreement allows for feeds to be managed in Upstream, and the Vendor Contract Authorization informs vendors of the brokerage's participation on the platform, and authorizes Upstream to work with them directly on integration.
The launch follows Upstream CEO Alex Lange's discussions with the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission, in which he answered antitrust-focused inquiries. On June 5, the DOJ and FTC will host a public workshop on competition in real estate.
Ahead of the workshop, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), which has invested in Upstream, issued a statement, asserting that "the real estate market is vibrant, healthy and vigorously competitive. Technology innovation in the real estate industry is robust, and the notion that real estate isn't highly competitive and listing data not readily available is unsubstantiated. To the contrary, a wealth of listing data is available to consumers and technology companies from a multitude of sources, and REALTORS® provide their clients and consumers with more real estate information today than has ever been available."
Upstream and its counterparts, including the Broker Public Portal, were discussed earlier this year during a California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) forum, where executives from MLSs and organizations in real estate addressed the challenges facing the MLS.
At RISMedia's 2016 Real Estate CEO Exchange, Lange likened Upstream to Google Drive for its capabilities like permissions: "Upstream is just a platform — no one at Upstream can see the data, touch the data, or control the data."
Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia's online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at email@example.com.