The vast majority of consumers begin their real estate searches online. They are not only looking for potential homes but also searching the real estate professionals that could help them with the sale or purchase. Googling a real estate agents name will most often return their social network profiles and industry profiles on the first page of the search results.
Agents do a fair job of updating their social profiles. However, they don’t even score a passing grade at keeping their industry profiles up to date. Take a moment and do an agent search on your company website. Imagine a consumer doing this same search. Do you like what you see?
Usually the answer will be no. You will find missing photos (or the infamous floating grey heads), poorly written bios (if any at all), missing or broken links to personal websites, phone numbers and emails may or may not be found and may or may not be correct. If you are feeling adventurous, try comparing your company websites agent profile to the one found on Zillow or Realtor.com. You have a better chance of winning the lottery than finding a match with this comparison. Photos, bios, and contact information rarely match up across these sites.
If you are a consumer, you’d have to wonder if these professionals who are supposed to navigate every detail of the home buying and selling process on my behalf can’t keep their online profiles consistent and up to date can really manage what is likely my largest financial transaction for my family? It wouldn’t be a stretch to answer no to that question.
For agents, this does seem to be a more difficult task, then we would expect. Some do better than others. Ultimately, for broker/owners the agent search results on their company website are the most valuable. The agent profiles that feed these searches also seem to be the most neglected.
Upstream has created a solution to this problem. With Phase 2 launching, we’ve extended rosters to include firm record information (offices, etc.), team information and organization, agents and even staff members (non-licensed team members like office managers, listing coordinators, etc.). We’ll be extending the profiles, so agents have a single place to store their profile information and photos. Integrated vendors can access a firm's entire roster across all MLS regions allowing the agent profiles to be shared to multiple locations. This means your agents don’t have to log in to multiple websites to manage their profiles. Across all the websites where profiles are maintained, Upstream can ensure a consistent agent profile for each one of your agents.
The benefits of Upstream’s agent profile management include:
Phase 1 of the new UpstreamRE is entering the user acceptance testing next week! We began "field testing" (Phase 0) after only five months, and one month later, Phase 1 is preparing for launch. #soexcited #CoreLogicRocks
As we approach the new launch of Upstream, we reflect on our path and what has changed to create our renewed momentum. We inevitably reference a flywheel. It’s a powerful metaphor that succinctly describes our new partnership with CoreLogic and why 2019 is different.
Although the flywheel goes back to the Neolithic spindle and the potter's wheel, it was more significantly used by James Watt over 200 years ago in his steam engine, the invention that powered the Industrial Revolution. It is highly efficient at capturing, storing, and releasing energy. And in Upstream’s case, delivering energy at rates beyond the ability of an energy source.
Our partnership with CoreLogic leverages two dynamics that make our flywheel spin fast: force and friction (or lack of friction).
The more force you apply to a flywheel, the faster it spins. Before we signed our partnership agreement, CoreLogic assigned two strong teams and began to work on Phase 0 and Phase 1 concurrently. Our board and broker supporters never wavered; they continued their support, even doubling down on resources. Getting all stakeholders behind moving forward and working in unison created a massive amount of force.
The second thing James Watt would recommend is to eliminate friction in your flywheel. If you’ve worked with me on anything, you know I’m a believer in eliminating friction. The first day the teams met in Irvine, we did the usual “who are you and what do you do,” but within the first few hours, we were a single unit. Discussing pain points, customer needs, and deployment scenarios without friction. If you’ve ever been in these meetings with executives, sales, product and technologists from multiple companies, you know there’s positioning, need for control, ego and unnecessary “friction.” It hasn’t happened. Everyone involved walks in every meeting with an attitude of “what are we trying to solve and how can I help.”
The old mantra, “If you want to build a great company, your product has got to be ten times better than the competition,” is out of date. Today, if you want to build a great company, the experience has to be ten times better. It’s not what you do that matters; it’s how you do it. This is our mantra, and combined with force is creating both leverage and momentum.
What Did This Flywheel Produce?
It’s been only five months since signing our partnership agreement, and we have launched Phase 0 into production and are beginning to onboard a few, select brokers and complete a production field test. In parallel, we’re continuing the development of Phase 1 and have targeted a summer release.
As a reminder, we are calling Phase 0 “Simple Broker Controlled Syndication.” In this version, a broker can sign up (self-serve) and set up their account, including billing (for when we eventually invoice). They can add administrative accounts, configure their MLS(s) and add their vendors. As they add vendors, they can assign a “payload,” allowing them to control the amount of data each vendor receives. In legacy systems, the vendor receives a full feed regardless if they need all the fields or access to photos. The broker “hopes” the recipient discards the data they don’t need for their offering. We have created templates (payloads) that can limit access to potentially sensitive items such as photos or sales history. And the broker has full visibility into their last access and if there are errors in the feed. Now you’ll know why that price change wasn’t updated on XYZ site!
The select brokers in Phase 0 will allow us to field test a few critical, but fundamental tenants of Upstream.
We’ll additionally use this time to optimize the onboarding process and integrate hundreds of vendors.
We are concurrently working on Phase 1, which focuses on the large, infrastructure task allowing brokers to enhance their listings with high-resolution photos. Sending high resolution, non-watermarked photos, and branded video tours to your marketing vendors will be easier than ever. Phase 1 will also include enhanced firm record access. Not just agent rosters. Information about your offices, team configurations, and even internal staff (office managers, listing coordinators, etc.) are available as well. Finally, we’ll top off this summer release by allowing a broker to schedule listing distribution by vendor and begin aggressively engaging the brokerages that have signed agreements.
Field testing after only five months. This could only have been accomplished with teams and supporters working together to create massive action while eliminating roadblocks. Our flywheel is in motion, but it’s an entirely different revolution it’s powering.
We seek to create efficiencies by reducing redundant entry, help brokers distribute deliberately by giving them control over who can access their data and inspire innovation by removing artificial barriers when the broker allows.