Meg White is the former managing editor of REALTOR® Magazine.
When he started his job in June running the company charged with establishing a cross-industry platform for collecting and distributing property data, Alex Lange, president and CEO of UpstreamRE, found that clearing up misconceptions quickly became a top priority. “There’s been such a vacuum of information about Upstream,” he says. So Lange, who is based in Seattle, promptly launched a speaking—and listening—tour across the country, meeting nearly nonstop with brokers, MLSs, and other stakeholders to clarify what the project is—and is not. “This isn’t some Trojan horse. It’s a service that the brokers are creating themselves.”
That creation process has recently entered a new stage of development: the beta test. Sixteen brokerages will get a close look at Upstream this fall. The offices are spread out over five MLSs nationwide: MLSListings Inc. in Santa Clara, Calif., where the beta testers include brokerages Pacific Union International Inc., Keller Williams Los Gatos Estates, and RE/MAX Gold; NorthstarMLS, based in St. Paul, Minn., including Edina Realty Inc., RE/MAX Results, and Keller Williams Classic Realty Northwest; north Texas’ NTREIS, which includes RE/MAX DFW Associates and Keller Williams Arlington; RMLS in the Pacific Northwest, including Coldwell Banker Bain/Seal, RE/MAX Equity Group, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Properties, and Keller Williams Realty of Eugene and Springfield; and West Penn MLS Inc., based in Pittsburgh, which includes RE/MAX Select, Northwood Realty Services, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices The Preferred Realty, and Howard Hanna.
The five MLSs and various listing data vendors working in these areas are currently testing API keys that link their systems with Upstream. Lange says they plan to have brokers and agents entering property data consistent with RESO standards on the platform by October. He hopes to have feedback to share in November at the 2016 REALTORS® Conference & Expo.
The beta test is scheduled to run through the end of the year and will be expanded in 2017. Lange, who formerly was an operating partner with Second Century Ventures, the National Association of REALTORS®’ strategic investment arm, says this phase will focus on working out the bugs and eliciting real- time feedback from brokers, agents, and MLSs interacting with the system. “Come one, come all; I want to hear everybody’s gripes,” he says. “We need the collective intelligence of the industry.”
Lange is no longer Upstream’s sole employee; he hired a project coordinator in July. But he expects the organization to remain lean. “We’re going to be running this as tightly as we can,” he says.