By Alex Lange, President and CEO
There has been significant progress in the MLS community to support their members. I applaud the efforts of the MLS Roundtable, the COVE Group, and CMLS. So much progress has been made towards standards, MLS consolidation, and even new features. The relationship between the brokerages and MLS community has improved since Craig Cheatham’s infamous “You’ve Got 10 Days,” speech at CMLS in 2013.
Not surprisingly, while attending the T3 Summit, multiple people from the MLS and vendor community asked me a pointed question: “Can’t the brokers declare victory?”
The simple answer, “it depends.” If the objective was for the brokerage and MLS communities to work better together, then I’d say “yes.” If the objective was to improve the MLS process whether it was listing entry, management or distribution, then I say, “we’ve come a long way.” But the question posed by my industry friends presumes Upstream is limited to property/listing/MLS data.
The original RFP sought a solution to manage brokerage data with these attributes:
Many gravitate to listings, but the RFP explicitly requested management of:
A system that manages the six data sets and gives brokers the tools to improve efficiency and control doesn’t exist. We’ve discussed the Upstream’s add/edit capabilities, RESO standards alignment, granular distribution control, etc. But there are scenarios with the other data sets that some argue lend far more value to the broker than listings management.
Let’s look at firm and agent record. The average time to onboard a new agent for most brokerages is two hours. You must enter their information into various internal systems and depending on the firm, may need to provision a website, give them access to a CRM, create accounts with your CMA provider, etc. Vendors that integrate with Upstream instantly know when a new agent has been added and can create accounts, etc. automatically regardless if that vendor even uses property data. Now consider the effort when you acquire an entirely new office? More important, the hygiene when an agent leaves typically isn’t systematic. How many agents have left your firm, yet they still have access to that CMA tool you provide because nobody went into the system to close their account? Upstream provides the ecosystem to automate the process.
How many sites does an agent create a profile? Internal sites, personal sites, portals all seek agent profile information. Upstream will allow agents to manage their profile information and photos in one place.
The employee record shouldn’t be overlooked especially as teams become more prevalent. Upstream allows brokers to delegate data management and distribution control to anyone they find makes their company more efficient. Often teams' members are not licensed practitioners because their role doesn’t mandate it. Listing and transaction coordinators and administrative staff no longer must share passwords which clean up the audit trail when tracking changes.
Upstream provides a clear dashboard to manage vendors and distribution. You will always know who received your data, when they received it, and if there were errors, etc. Adding new vendors is easy, and if you chose a new vendor already on the system, you can give them access and be up and running in minutes without multi-jurisdictional agreements.
There are additional scenarios regarding event triggers. Vendors can poll for changes in the data to automate processes. A new listing is added… create a single property website. Status changed… create a transaction room. Agent leaves… clawback broker purchased leads. You get my point. You now have an ecosystem that allows you to partner with all your vendors and create amazing efficiencies.
Again, the MLS community has done amazing things in recent years to support their brokers and agents. These changes have been spearheaded by the most progressive firms and they’ve been great partners. However, I look forward to consolidation efforts as many brokerages span multiple MLSs, and until the entire ecosystem has adopted their efforts, brokers must manage to the lowest common denominator.
The efficiencies and control that brokerages seek span diverse data sets, geographies, and vendors. Optimization so they can better focus on their core business requires unification, standardization, secure common access, and the ability to evolve their business without constraint.
This is why “victory” remains elusive.
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.