At the NAR Board of Directors’ meeting in Washington DC, the following recommendation was approved: “That the proposal for National Association of REALTORS® and the REALTORS Property Resource (RPR) partner with UpstreamRE LLC to create and implement a data entry and collection system for the brokerage community utilizing the RPR® Advanced Multi-list Platform® (AMP™) be approved.”
But what does this mean?
First, it means that NAR and RPR and UpstreamRE LLC are going to create a national listing maintenance module. Once brokers enter their listings into this system, they can direct it to send the listing into MLSs, to syndication destinations, or wherever else they want their own listings sent, such as their broker back-office system. RPR was kind enough to send me the diagram below to explain things:
Everyone needs to understand that the Upstream software doesn’t exist today and may take a long time to come to fruition.
Anyone who has worked with MLSs across the country understands how very diverse MLSs’ data and related business rules are. So, if you are a broker in several MLSs, and this listing your agent just took belongs in two of the MLSs, creating or managing a listing in Upstream that will fit neatly into both of them and not be kicked back with an error will require Upstream to be very sophisticated indeed. I won’t get into the technical details in this article but, this is going to take time, a lot of standards work, and the cooperation and financial investment of both MLS organizations and their software vendors. That’s if RPR wants to do it right, in a way where brokers and agents aren’t frustrated with MLS-system-rejected listings.
To be clear, Upstream is a good thing
Since the industry hasn’t significantly solved MLS “overlapping market disorder” (OMD) and there are still a number of MLSs out there that make it difficult for brokers to use their own data, the brokers need Upstream. It’s going to be a challenging project to complete, but the brokers need it.
As described above, while approving Upstream, the NAR board also approved RPR’s Advanced Multi-list Platform® (AMP™). To quote RPR’s CEO Dale Ross, “AMP is a parcel-centric database to power MLS services.” It will support the front end of RPR as well as a framework that would allow MLSs or subscribers to license and integrate whatever MLS front end or additional integrated modules (CMA, Prospecting, etc.) they want.
Why some people are worried
Some people are worried – “Sure, AMP is being positioned as just a back end, but RPR is a front end and together with Upstream, that’s an entire national MLS system.”
To that, I answer, “Maybe so. We’ll see.” But the kind of data standards for AMP that would support users “hot-swapping” different modules – CMA, financials, client collaboration, etc.— would require data standards and potentially interface standards that may be several years off. And software vendors would need to adopt those standards and want to plug in to that new business model.
Yes, such a vision could be modified to make it less challenging and require less time to implement, but this project is not happening right now. I think implementing the larger vision for AMP will have to take a seat behind Upstream, which has to be RPR’s immediate priority and is a huge project on its own.
The bottom line: don’t panic
There are many questions Clareity’s clients have about these projects, plenty of other challenges to these projects becoming a reality, and many potential impacts if and when these projects do come to fruition. I imagine I’ll be regularly advising clients on this subject, addressing various leadership groups around the country, and exploring these projects in greater depth during strategic planning sessions over the next few years.
But in the short term, I would suggest that no one panic.
It’s easy to lay out the worst case scenarios for different stakeholders, but all that’s happened so far is that money has been approved to begin these projects. We really don’t know the final shape these projects will take. There are many industry leaders who are well plugged-in to things at NAR, and these leaders will help shape this future – no doubt taking steps to avoid those worst case scenarios. Change is afoot – it’s always afoot – and we will all adjust and pivot should it be necessary to do so.