Today we officially announced our partnership with CoreLogic replacing RPR as our vendor. We are excited to make this announcement and about the future of this initiative. We’ve been working closely with CoreLogic for almost six months to ensure everyone is aligned on Upstream’s promise to the brokers. A promise to provide brokers with better tools to exercise their fiduciary duty to protect and control their firm and client’s data.
Navigating Upstream through industry waters has sometimes felt like Class V rapids as we learn and maneuver to reach our goal. The greatest lesson throughout this journey is the need for alignment. Alignment of stakeholders, alignment of mission and alignment of incentives. “We are very excited about our partnership with CoreLogic. Their team has demonstrated an understanding of our needs, a willingness to work through the complexities, has deep relationships with MLS’s and brokers across the country, and a track record to get the job done,” says Real Estate One CEO and UpstreamRE Chairman Dan Elsea. “They collaborated early on to ensure all parties were appropriately set up and aligned to succeed.”
So, what’s different with this new deal? Let’s start with what’s the same.
Brokers remain in charge of the initiative with its board and operating agreement unchanged, maintaining its “cooperative style” operating structure. The Board of Managers remains elected by the Upstream members to manage and direct the initiative. And Upstream will continue to drive the product roadmap, marketing, sales, and governance, and quoted prices will not be increased.
Why is this better? What propels Upstream’s future?
CoreLogic has outstanding experience, relationships, and coverage across the MLS community. They are the perfect choice if you want to align better with any MLS. Upstream has always looked to partner with the MLS community, but we are better with CoreLogic by our side. Their platforms already cover over 60% of the US, and they adroitly understand regional nuances and issues MLS CEOs face. With the Trestle platform, we can create a custom product for brokers that leverage their enterprise infrastructure and integration architecture. Over 300 vendors are already integrated and receive data today!
Finally, CoreLogic embraces our desire to align, adopt, and promote the RESO standard. Few vendors have the resources and broad coverage we can leverage to help push national adoption.
So, what’s next?
The teams have been working together on an aggressive, multi-phased roll-out. Brokers will receive deployments as early as Q2 that give them syndication control and administrative accounts. Shortly after, users can “enhance” listings with high-res photos, documents, etc. And they’ll receive vendor management and distribution reporting. We will follow with role-based accounts, roster management (agent, staff, team, and office) and team features. All this in 2019!
We’ll end the year building Add/Edit functionality looking to deploy in the first half of 2020. Innovation won’t end there as we plan to add client record management, transaction fields and even add customizable broker fields to their managed data in subsequent phases.
Proper alignment early has created powerful, internal momentum. There is a lot to be excited about in this new partnership. We added experts who have navigated these waters to our team.
This is an exerpt from a message sent to Upstream participants, investors and supporters fom our CEO, Alex Lange
I was hoping to post an update before the media blitz, but we should never be surprised by how fast news spreads about movement in our industry. If you haven’t seen the news, Upstream is making big changes that are great for the project, practitioners, and MLSs.
We’ve learned a ton over the past few years, and frankly, NAR has been instrumental in helping us define the product, understand friction in deployment and navigate the political environment. Our refined understanding of what it will take to implement Upstream’s dream lead all parties to agree that we should amicably separate and seek new options.
Upstream has vetted and select a new vendor to power our initiative. We have solidified early deal terms and will announce as soon as we have signed the definitive agreement.
It’s been an exhilarating journey but not remotely as exciting as our renewed prospects with our new partner. They will dramatically accelerate our rollout and vendor adoption. They will leverage what we’ve learned and incorporate it into their extensive and reliable platform.
If you can’t tell… I’m thrilled!
But before the rumors start, I want to set a few things straight…
I apologize for being so quiet while working on these deals. I believe more than ever that 2019 will be phenomenal for Upstream, practitioners and the industry.
I'm looking forward to announcing more details of our new partnership soon. For now, if you want to read more about the transition, you can go here.
An op-ed by Alex Lange, President, and CEO of UpstreamRE, LLC
On September 7, 2018 Inman News published an opinion piece by attorney Mitch Skinner about the merits of a set of proposed “Fair Input Guidelines” (“Guidelines”) for MLSs to consider and possibly adopt that would govern how MLS participants could utilize “alternative input and maintenance” (“AIM”) systems to upload listing and other content to the MLS’ databases. Examples of AIM systems mentioned include UpstreamRE, and Zillow’s Bridge product. The term could also apply to CoreLogic’s Trestle product.
I would like to thank Mitch for disseminating these suggested guidelines. The MLS community should establish a set of standard policies and practices to guide MLS participants who will utilize AIM systems to enhance their control over their listing and other proprietary business data. There are, however, aspects of the guidelines inconsistent with the functionality Upstream is offering to its users.
Upstream is a user-controlled database where participants can upload, edit, and direct the distribution of their listing content and other business data. Much like “cloud computing” service providers (Google Drive), and MLSs themselves, Upstream does not control the quantity, quality, or intellectual property ownership of the content that its users upload to the system. It isn’t practical or even appropriate for Upstream to verify whether a participants’ content complies with third-party license agreements applicable to the MLS participants or the vendors to which the Upstream users direct their content. What that suggests is similar to you putting money in your bank account, and the bank is responsible for proving you have all the agreements in place with any vendor you decide to leverage bill pay. That particular agreement is between you and the vendor… not the bank. “Please upload your Comcast agreement so we can have someone review it to determine if we will allow you to pay them via Bill-Pay.” This is an extreme example using something as highly regulated as a bank and the transfer of money, and it’s still inappropriate.
In its template agreements with its users, Upstream expressly disclaims any responsibility for the intellectual property ownership, possible infringement, or regulatory compliance of the content the participants upload to the Upstream system. With a potential base of hundreds of thousands of users uploading millions of property records to the Upstream system, it is simply impossible to expect Upstream to verify whether a user’s specific content complies with agreements or policies between a user and third parties.
There are plenty of brokerages that enter their data into an MLS via feeds (not direct input) and multiples more who control syndication to third-parties instead of leveraging their MLS. Will an MLS be held to the same standard? “Dear broker (typically one of the largest in that market), please verify that you have all the appropriate business and compliance agreements in place to every vendor you distribute your data.”
Yet, the “guidelines” impose this obligation on operators of AIM systems. For example, the guidelines provide under Intellectual Property Rights: “A participant’s AIM system must obtain from subscribers and third parties (like photographers) any necessary licenses or assignments, or it must confirm to MLS that the participant has acquired the licenses or assignments by other means.” It is impractical and presumptive for the operator of an AIM system, such as Upstream, to obtain licenses or assignments of licenses from third parties of intellectual property rights in content maintained by users in an AIM system database. Again, the agreement is between the broker and the vendor; not Upstream. Imagine if you signed up for G-Suite and they made you prove you were sharing data with your accountant in a “compliant” fashion if you decide to share it using Google Drive. If the MLS requires such licenses or assignments, the duty to secure them should be on the MLS, or their members via their participation agreements, not the AIM system provider.
The guidelines additionally impose under “Compliance with MLS Business Rules” that “Any AIM system must implement the business rules and policies that MLS adopts and are binding on participants. MLS will provide these rules to participants, subscribers and their third-party partners subject to a license agreement.” Again, this guideline suggests that the AIM system provider conforms the participant’s data to the MLS’ rules. Upstream is a user-controlled database. Upstream doesn’t manage the data, the brokers do. I’m President and CEO of UpstreamRE, and I have no access to the production environment or data by design. We can implement interface options that influence “best practice” behavior, but Upstream like every MLS serves at the pleasure of its members.
There are other examples, such as those covering seller authorization to withhold a listing, etc. They fall under the same rubric where the enforcement of obtaining such documents are between the broker and the MLS and/or vendor and not the data platform (Upstream, Google Drive, etc.).
In summary, it is prudent for the MLS community to adopt policies governing MLS participants’ use of AIM systems to transmit content to MLS databases. Such policies should address technology interfaces between the AIM and MLS databases. But compliance with MLS rules and intellectual property rights or assignments should be, as is the case today, strictly matters between the MLSs and their participants.
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.