Upstream is poised in several markets to offer the first modules of functionality to brokerages in 2021. One-piece now ready to many areas is the platform that allows brokers to centralize the management and distribution of their data to third-party providers. Upstream users can, from one place, have visibility and control of their information across all their offices and spanning multiple MLS regions. The software now enables agents to enhance property listings with images not stored in the MLS, such as high-resolution and/or non-watermarked photos, through Upstream's unlimited image management capabilities. Upstream now offers brokerages the ability to distribute their data using prepackaged payloads, providing their partners access to the data they need – such as a feed without media, a feed without history, and more. Brokers using Upstream in early 2021 can also utilize a roster management component, allowing them to store and distribute data on all individuals associated with their firm, not just MLS participants. This roster function comes in handy for entering and updating information on individuals once in one place. Having that data populate every website and application and database that requires a name, contact information, and even a photograph. This saves time and effort and helps ensure the correct information appears everywhere at all times.
For brokerages in markets where CoreLogic's "Trestle" product is in place already, 2021 can be the year they benefit from the initial features of Upstream now available. For brokerages in other markets, in 2021, Upstream can ingest data by mapping MLS information or the RESO API. Hundreds of vendors already are integrated with CoreLogic's platforms, allowing just a simple configuration adjustment to gain access to data from Upstream.
While a significant focus for Upstream in the new year will be to expand Upstream users' geographical footprint on these initial components, the CoreLogic team will continue building additional features to be offered in the future. Upstream's ultimate goal is to provide one place to enter and edit broker and agent data of all kinds, not just listing-related information.
Upstream's purpose remains to deliver greater efficiency and empowerment to brokers and agents from real estate firms of all sizes and business models, in addition to helping manage risk and improve the consumer experience. Real estate data appear in multiple databases through repetitive data entry into several systems. Still, the Upstream project's goal is to provide brokers and agents one, single point of entry for all their data, from which all their applications and databases would be populated automatically with up-to-date information that meets data standardization requirements. Distribution functionality within Upstream, when fully available, will give brokerages the ability to direct the destinations of their data and better track its use. Smaller brokers using Upstream will have a sophisticated data management tool; only the largest operations have today. Upstream also will make changing from one vendor to another seamless, unlike the long, tedious process required currently in most situations. Data security and backup are increasingly important these days, and participants gain an additional risk management tool in Upstream. Brokers and their vendors can focus more of their time, effort, and investment on innovation and serving consumers as they shift resources away from entering data multiple times, updating information numerous places, and cleaning up and standardizing data. With brokers and agents using Upstream as their single data entry point, consumers can count on much better accuracy in the information they find about properties.
After a couple of years of broad-based discussions about common data challenges, industry leaders focused in late 2013 on developing a solution for the management of all real estate data, acknowledging the need for a platform to handle data not currently hosted by multiple listing services. In 2014 representatives of a wide array of real estate companies, networks and brands hammered out a governance and management framework for the project, allowing it to function much like a cooperative focused on serving brokers and agents. In 2015 Upstream engaged its first vendor to develop and implement the solution, and in 2016 hired a chief executive officer to help build and launch the project. In 2018 and 2019, Upstream transitioned from its first vendor to CoreLogic. Building on top of an existing product, the new vendor brought to market the first component of Upstream, allowing brokers to manage images not stored or distributed by the multiple listing service. CoreLogic's work in 2019 and 2020 will make possible additional modules for use by brokers and agents in 2021.
Upstream has a new liaison with its vendor partner, as well. Last month Upstream CEO Alex Lange transitioned out of his role to prepare for a new opportunity to be announced soon, and Upstream contracted with WAV Group for the services of David Gumpper, president of business intelligence and technology, to continue key components of Alex's work.
"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," said Dan Elsea, former chairman of the Upstream board of managers and owner of Michigan-based Real Estate One. "We will miss his hand on the wheel, however, Alex has been working hard toward this transition, so we are not surprised at how smoothly it has gone."
"I've never been more confident that the time is now for brokers to control their data," said Lange. "The increasing number of entrants competing with brokerages rather than servicing them is staggering. I am proud we've been able to build more collaboration between practitioners and those who serve them. I'm proud that the platform is ready, and Upstream is positioned for success. I continue to believe that consumers are best served by having a Realtor, a trusted fiduciary, help them through their home buying journey which is why I'll assist Upstream for as long as they'll have me."
"Alex has made tremendous contributions to progress on the Upstream effort during a critical phase for the project as we moved from a concept to development and development to implementation," said Craig Cheatham, chairman of the Upstream board of managers. "When CoreLogic partnered with Upstream, we gained a large team and tremendous resources that positioned us to transition from our current staffing model. However, Alex was very generous to stay around for the past many months, giving Upstream the benefit of his effort and expertise above and beyond our plans and expectations. Brokers in our initial launch markets will get some of the project's benefits much earlier because of his passion for and commitment to Upstream. We greatly appreciate his dedication to this much-needed solution for brokers and agents of all sizes and business models."
WAV Group has been involved without interruption since Upstream's founding in supporting the project in various capacities, so the new staffing arrangement has been especially smooth. David Gumpper has17 years of experience in enterprise brokerage technology and leadership, including posts as chairman of the RESO Broker Advisory Workgroup, membership on the RESO Board of Directors, service on the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World broker technology workgroup, The Realty Alliance marketing and technology leaders group and various NAR committees and workgroups. Gumpper was chief technology officer for several years at a major real estate company, Sarasota-based Michael Saunders & Company, giving him key insight into the data management challenges brokers and agents face. These roles have prepared Gumpper to support Upstream in connecting its brokerage customers with the technology vendors that integrate with their data to deliver services to agents and their customers. WAV Group's brokerage clients have been supported by Gumpper as the first firms in the successful integration of Upstream as a central data repository for their office records, roster, and listing records and played a key role in the final quality assurance of the production solution that brokers can now access.
"David Gumpper knows from firsthand experience the time, effort and money our industry wastes today on data and the opportunities brokers are missing without an Upstream-like solution in place," said Cheatham. "Few are as passionate about this project as David, and few have the knowledge and experience he is bringing to this role. As we began preparing for this change a while back, Alex Lange and I both knew the first person to approach was David Gumpper."
"Upstream couldn't be more relevant than it is today," said Gumpper. "Upstream is a home for the broker's listing, sales associate, employee, vendor and office data and supports NAR MLS policy, passed at the May 2020 NAR meetings, clarifying broker rights to their own data."
"As one of the first brokerages to launch Upstream into production with the support of WAV Group, I can tell you that other firms launching Upstream will greatly benefit from the experience and knowledge that David delivers," said Lacey Conway, president of New Orleans-based Latter & Blum.
CoreLogic has been ready for Upstream's staffing transition from the beginning and is set to leverage its staff to keep progress on the rollout and continued development on track in the months and years ahead. David Gumpper has participated in multiple, joint meetings with the CoreLogic team as the November staff handoff approached, helping ensure uninterrupted progress.
"We are fully committed to the Upstream project and appreciate the contributions Alex Lange provided that led us to deliver on a product that offered brokers a robust data management and distribution platform," said Chris Bennett, Executive Leader for CoreLogic Real Estate Solutions. "We look forward to continued growth with Upstream and their broker members and to continuing the work we already have been doing with David Gumpper as Upstream's liaison."
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.