By Jeremy Conaway

Jeremy_PlaneLast month, we reviewed the down-to – earth business intelligence and guidance provided to the brokerage community during a recent series of industry conferences renown for the depth of their research and the accuracy of their presentations. In preparation for this month’s information, you are requested to immediately climb to 55,000 feet for a more extended view of the circumstances that will impact if not control your businesses and marketplace moving forward.

The events of Saturday, May 16 will, in all likelihood, impact the operation of your business more than any other single day in recent history. This is, of course, a reference to the National Association of REALTORS®’ Board of Directors meeting held in Washington, D.C. and the positive vote taken in support of NAR’s partnership with Project Upstream as well as the funding of both Project Upstream and AMP (Advanced Multi-List Platform).

The following comments benefit generously from remarks made by Dale Ross, the uber-gifted REALTOR® Property Resource (RPR) CEO. The partnership between NAR and UpstreamRE, LLC will leverage the RPR technology platform to develop a new data management service for brokers known as Project Upstream. The events of May 16 culminated several months of extensive discussions between leaders of many of the nation’s largest brokerages, franchise networks and NAR. They created a significant opportunity for the industry to leverage and take advantage of RPR’s five-year investment in data and technology.

In light of the importance of these events, additional clarification may be necessary. It is common knowledge within the industry that NAR, through its wholly owned subsidiary, RPR, has, over the past five years, invested millions of dollars into what may be the finest real estate database ever created. It is also widely known in the industry that RPR’s first attempt, in 2010, to bring the benefits of this database to its REALTOR® constituents was something less than successful. Even today, our ever-present industry observers, many of whom have no claim to creativity or innovation, continue to rave about this early shortfall.

Well, that nonsense can now be silenced forever. Because of the courage, resilience, insight and leadership of Dale Stinton and Dale Ross, NAR and RPR were, with the assistance of some of the brightest minds in the industry and in the midst of one of the most intense conflicts in the industry’s history, able to bring the lessons learned, experience and assets created by that investment into the arena to bring the parties together and allow them to move forward on common ground not bifurcated turf.

Let’s bang on that drum one more time. The RPR investment will now take its place in history as one of the smartest business strategies ever orchestrated by organized real estate. At the very moment that circumstances suggested a violent separation of organized real estate and big business the RPR investment stepped forward to make the difference.

With this event in place, a number of philosophical and business issues arise. Consider the following:

  • Will those industry personalities who fancy themselves permanent critics now transition to support this epic opportunity, or will they continue to wallow in an historic mud bath and confusion?
  • Will those talented minds that were able to bring peace and a whole new standard of quality to the industry demonstrate an equal level of talent by lending themselves to the difficult task of development and implementation that lies ahead? Success over the next 18 months will require honesty, collaboration and faith. Unfortunately, the path ahead will also be vulnerable to the actions and words of those who have no real stake in the game and relish ambushing the process as a form of intellectual entertainment.
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, will a critical mass of brokerages and agents rise to the opportunity created by this agreement to create a truly future focus? These are exciting times, but only for those who elect to be participants rather than spectators.

What does all this mean to millions of productive REALTORS® and successful brokerage firms? Project Upstream will be built on RPR’s Advanced Multi-list Platform™ (AMP™). AMP provides a new technology foundation for MLSs to serve brokers and agents. This unified platform will have two distinct servicing components. Upstream will be a single point of listing entry, management, and distribution for brokerages. AMP is parcel-centric database to power MLS services.

If you are a broker, you are about to have a data experience that will allow you to “call the shots” and customize that experience like never before. If you are an agent you are about the experience the excitement of working with a system that has the strength and universality of attract hundreds of new features and functionalities.

Recall how excited you were when you bought your first smart phone and visited the “app store.” That wonderment was possible because of the stability and predictability of the basic platform (your phone). The same dynamic will, in the near term future, be available to the industry MLS subscribers.

The beneficiaries of this new way of doing business will be many. Brokerages will now be able to design profitability and unique consumer and agent data based experiences into their systems and procedures. Agents will be able to celebrate individuality by designing and implementing data related services that are unique to their market, professional talents and personalities.

The most important beneficiary of this new world will be competitiveness. A whole new generation of agents will be engaged in “doing it their way” within the constructive structure of rules and roles that that are ethical, profitable and consumer centric.

Now is the time for brokerages and REALTORS® to begin the process of preparing for the new world. Don’t wait. As always the early adopters will gain the upper hand.

Please return to you regular altitude and prepare to file a new flight plan. We hope you have enjoyed the view ahead.