CEO’s Message: The Value of a Collaborative Community

Jim Harrison: MLSListings Inc CEO and President

Jim Harrison: MLSListings Inc CEO and President

Our industry is currently facing an epic level of challenge and disruption.  The current industry environment is the most conflicted in recent history, with work on Project Upstream beginning in earnest at the end of 2015, following the execution of the UpstreamRE/RPR development agreement.  Under this agreement RPR, a wholly owned subsidiary of NAR, will provide design, development, implementation, and operations services for UpstreamRE the program owner. These events, probably missed by most within the industry, constitute the latest chapter in what may well be the single most important collaborative activity undertaken by the industry in recent history.

UpstreamRE is a non-profit organization owned by a consortium of some of the largest brokerages and franchise brands in the industry. After considering a number of development proposals UpstreamRE selected RPR to develop the concept. In May of last year, the NAR Board of Directors approved funding for project development in the amount of $12 million –the sum required to take the project from a vision to operational status.

The basic concept of the Upstream Project is to provide brokers with a database that is external to the MLS and can accept “upstream” data from brokers and then distribute it where brokers direct, including to their MLS. In other words, participating brokers will be able to direct the distribution of their listings data within the Upstream system. Upstream is being designed to serve as a platform for controlling access to and the distribution of the data in accordance with directions to be developed by participating brokers. UpstreamRE’s primary philosophy is that brokers should dictate where their data is syndicated.

The time is long overdue for the industry to bring its level of data management up to current technology standards and consumer expectations. Project Upstream is a solution that may be able to meet these expectations by providing a system that will address the demands and expectations being voiced by the brokerage community.

While this new environment may seem threatening when viewed from a more positive light it is actually providing all of us with a superb opportunity to come together and create new and more functional working relationships between agents, brokers, MLSs and consumers. Relationships that are productive within and relevant to the new real estate marketplace.

The Upstream Project represents a giant step forward in terms of both industry concept and collaboration. It has been afforded the distinct advantages of the most generous funding and collaborative support base ever assembled by the industry. Imagine an undertaking that has won the support of both big brokerages and organized real estate. Do we really believe that these circumstances may ever merge again?

This is not to suggest that Upstream is in any way perfect or that its primary leaders have awed us with their efforts to date. But there is at the core of Upstream a glint of brilliance and the open door of a new opportunity. Isn’t this the very nature of history where causes and movements are born of confusion and chaos and then grow to become the foundation of great things moving forward?

Given these realities we feel that it is essential that the entire industry and every individual involved in it get positively engaged with and support Upstream. Together we can leave behind the current state of confusion that hangs over the industry. Working together we can take our industry to the next level and provide the consumer, the marketplace and ourselves with a stable and dependable platform from which to house families, meet the needs of investors, evolve careers and foster successful and profitable businesses. This may well be our only shot, lets take it.


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