Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

Remine to launch add-edit tool

Remine add-edit tool to allow Texas brokers to push listings to MLS

The deal means NTREIS subscribers can either continue to use the MLS’s current CoreLogic Matrix system for listing management or can alternatively use Remine’s add-edit tool. NTREIS’s back-end system remains Matrix.

“This offers an opportunity for agents to upload a listing using a different module. Think of it as front end of choice,” NTREIS CEO John Holley told Inman in a phone interview.

Additionally, “a broker that has a back-end system will be able to use that back-end system to load a listing” and push it to Remine’s add-edit tool to push it to the MLS, he added, noting that agents would prefer not to have to switch between systems and stay in their broker’s back-end system. “That is the goal.”

Whoa. I would love to see this in action. Is it possible that Remine beat Upstream to the punch?

UpstreamRE is switching vendors

From UpStreamRE.com

Upstream Charts New Direction

“Upstream’s leadership paired its discussions with NAR with a review of various options for powering the Upstream project in 2019 and beyond. With the completion of RPR’s development of the Upstream system that process is now complete and Upstream has selected a new vendor well positioned to deliver Upstream’s industry-wide platform and at a speed of implementation necessary to secure significant adoption during the coming year. Upstream expects to announce the name of the new vendor in January 2019 soon after final negotiations on a definitive agreement are complete.”

15 million dollars, gone. No talk about whether or not NAR members will ever be paid back.

Last time we heard from UpstreamRE (May 18) they were about to “add to five to six markets per month

What a shit show.

And now this Upstream mess is starting to leak out to the main stream media, check out this article from “The Real Deal”.

NAR vs. the naysayers
The nation’s most powerful real estate trade association has poured millions into tech, but some say it may be too little, too late.

In the article Alex Lange seems to throw NAR (via RPR) under the bus,

“Upstream’s Lange, who took over in 2016, acknowledged that while the work is complex, Realtors Property had taken “entirely too long to build this.” But, he said, because Realtors Property was “building it for me for free, I kind of have to go with it.””

But, the last line of the article might be the most prophetic…

““It’s hard not to lose face if you just back away now,” he said. “Yet there isn’t a face-saving option that’s available.”

Ya think??

So who is this mystery “new vendor”? Doesn’t appear an RFP was ever sent out. In a correspondence to brokers, sent from UpstreamRE CEO Alex Lange, stated….

We targeted a new partner that will multiply our acceleration technically, geographically and politically.

Has anyone at UpstreamRE ever heard of under promise, over deliver?

The only vendor that make sense would be a vendor like CoreLogic, but wouldn’t that kind of conflict with there existing MLS provider partnerships? Or maybe a newer vendor like Remine or Homesnap. Taking Upstream on would be a huge distraction for either of them. Remine is launching their “MLS 2.0” product and Homesnap is still trying to figure out how to let consumers search for homes with pools.

The spot light on any vendor would be pretty bright. And for what? A way for brokers to be sued by the DOJ for anti-trust?

Whistleblower claims RPR’s code is “very fragile” and “garbage”

Andrea Brambila writing for Inman News

Former contractor launches crowdfund campaign to sue RPR

“He worked on RPR’s core platform — the property database — not Upstream, but chuckled upon hearing that one reason RPR was chosen as the vendor for Upstream was because the company planned to build on its existing technology to create Upstream.

“They had to start from scratch because they couldn’t use a lot of the code from RPR because it was so bad,” Komar said, noting that that was likely a reason for Upstream’s delayed launch.

RPR’s technology is “very fragile” due to its “poorly architected system” and “poorly written” and “non-optimized” code, according to Komar.

In his opinion, RPR would have no chance of selling the platform. “Anyone who did their due diligence would give them a failing grade,” he said.”

I tell you who’s not “chuckling”, NAR members. Over 230 million dollars later, RPR and Upstream have both crossed over and have become Greek Tragedies at this point. Somebody should write a book.

Will the Feds shut down Upstream?

Government staffers question Upstream CEO on antitrust ahead of launch

Lange confirmed to Inman that he spoke with staffers from the DOJ and FTC yesterday and has separately spoken with staff attorneys for the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights on two other occasions in September 2016 and January 2017, including a trip to Washington, D.C., to answer questions surrounding whether Upstream would violate federal anti-competitive laws.

So the government has questioned UpstreamRE on 3 separate occasions, in 2016, 2017, and now 2018? Does that sound normal? Does that inspire confidence?

“David Kully, a former staff attorney in the DOJ’s antitrust division, spoke at an MLS forum hosted by Zillow in Dana Point, California, in late April. He said if he were still at DOJ, he might ask whether Upstream “is something that is going to help facilitate brokers overcoming the competitive forces that have caused them to share data and to change from that.”

“I do not mean to say that the intent of Upstream was to allow brokers to stop competing on where they send listings and to reach a potentially illegal agreement to boycott listings portals, but I wonder whether it might unintentionally have that effect by making it easier for brokers to do so,” Kully said when reached by Inman.

“I haven’t spoken to anyone at the DOJ or FTC about this and don’t know whether this is on their radar screen.”

Real estate giant Zillow Group confirmed that it speaks with government officials regularly and has specifically pointed to Upstream as a company it has concerns about within the real estate ecosystem.

Mr. Kully has raised this same issue last month.

So the DOJ/FTC has questioned UpstreamRE 3 times over the past 3 years. The former lead attorney for the DOJ (who fought successfully for the DOJ and forced NAR to change it’s listing policy) says a side effect of Upstream could make it anti-competitive and Zillow (the 6,000 pound gorilla in the room who’s CEO regularly visits Washington D.C.) also “has concerns”.

Is anyone paying attention? Upstream is already two years behind schedule, and if it ever launches (and that’s a big IF) it appears there’s a good chance the government may shut it down. This after, less than a year ago, NAR approved an additional funding of 9 million dollars (I’ve lost count on how much already had been spent).

I think Will Rogers said it best.

“When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

Or maybe Kenny Rogers,

“You gotta know when to hold them, know when to fold ’em”

Or maybe Bruce Springsteen,

“It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap
We gotta get out while we’re young”

But hey, whatever man, roll the video…

3 things I learned at the ITIF panel on “Using Technology to Make Real Estate More Competitive”


I happen to be in Washington D.C. on a spring break trip with my family so I was able to attend the event live. I know many of you caught the live stream. Here’s the top 3 take-aways.

1. The panel’s moderator, Daniel Castro, didn’t seem to grasp the nuances of a real estate transaction and listing process. It seemed, at least to me, he was learning on the job. To his credit he wasn’t giving up. He believed in his view point, but needed some better arguments.

2. Speaking of the panel, I just have say how great it was to see Brian Larson back in action. Man I miss that guy, and to see him make clear and cogent arguments was a sight to see. Brian is a stud and represented the MLS industry as well as it could be. He should be in the CMLS Hall of Fame….oh wait that already happen. : )

3. Upstream might have some explaining to do (to the DOJ that is). I thought this bit was really telling. I’ve heard many people have concerns about Upstream’s business model, but this was a whole new level. David Kully former Chief of the Litigation III Section of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. Basically the guy who was giving NAR the screws. Mr. Kelly stated (starts about 23:05 in the video) when he looked back at the case against NAR it was less about how it “protected a particular business model” and more about “how brokers that perceive a threat might act collectively to try to counter-act that threat”. He went on, “You see things like…Upstream..seems like a solution in search of a problem… and if I had my DOJ hat on ..I might think…Well, what’s that all about?, why is that happening, is that something out there to address a threat in the industry.” Boom goes the dynamite.

One last thing. The FTC-DOJ did announce they are holding a workshop on “What’s New in Residential Real Estate Brokerage Competition”. You can find out more here.

Listing Bits: Backing Ambitious Initiatives in Real Estate with Victor Lund of WAVGroup

‘You can change anything you want to change. People can sit around and complain all they want, or they can do something about it. We’re consultants. We want to go do something about it. We’re tired of talking about it. Let’s just go do it.’

 

Victor Lund is involved in some of the most ambitious initiatives in the real estate industry. From Upstream to Broker Public Portal, Victor is passionate about solving big problems, and whether or not you agree with his approach, you have to respect his willingness to advocate for change. As the founding partner of WAVGroup, he serves as a consultant to large brokerage firms and MLSs with a particular focus on operational effectiveness, communications and strategic planning. Victor is also the founder and CEO of RE Technology, the leading real estate technology and media portal in the US.

 

Today Victor shares how he made the transition from venture capital to real estate consulting. He discusses the role of RE Technology and its unusual practice of inviting companies to read their articles in advance of publication. Victor defends his advocacy for the Upstream initiative, explaining the scope of the project and the many benefits it will provide for industry players. He also speaks to the intent behind Broker Public Portal, clearing up misconceptions around how Homesnap functions as a partner rather than a vendor. Listen in for Victor’s insight on tackling difficult challenges in real estate and cooperation as the way forward.

 

What’s Discussed:

 

Victor’s transition from VC to real estate consulting

The role of RE Technology as the CNET for real estate

Why RE Technology shares its articles before publication

How WAVGroup’s research department sets it apart

The significant disconnect between brokers and MLSs

Victor’s participation in controversial initiatives

-Upstream

-Broker Public Portal

Victor’s insight on the benefits of Upstream

-Ease burden of agent onboarding checklist

-Instant automation of systems migration

-Efficiency for vendors to deploy products

-Data sharing between MLSs and brokerages

-Facilitates data integration (acquisitions)

-Automate systems (photographer, records creation)

-The incredible scope of the Upstream project

-The timeline for getting Upstream up and running

-Why Upstream uses Web API rather than RETS

Victor’s Upstream pitch for small brokerages

-Premiere information management system

Why fear is the greatest challenge for the Upstream initiative

The impact of Add/Edit on an MLS and its related market

The intent behind Broker Public Portal

-Reimagine way consumers get info

-Consumer-facing website, benefit MLS

The joint venture between Broker Public Portal and Homesnap

How change of control provisions are built into the BPP/Homesnap contract

How Homesnap reinvented themselves as an industry partner

The concept of a parcel-centric database

 

Resources:

Upstream fixes many problems, not just one

WAVes of Change

UpstreamRE

Broker Public Portal

Homesnap

Homesnap BPP

 

Connect with Victor Lund:

WAVGroup

RE Technology

RE Technology on Twitter

Victor on Facebook

Victor on LinkedIn

Victor on Twitter

 

 

 

Redfin smacks down MLS hit piece

Well it looks like at least Redfin isn’t blaming the MLS.

Glenn Kelman and Chelsea Goyer of Redfin published a blog post, titled, A Tragedy of the Commons, which rebukes a paper published from the Center for Data Innovation. Everyone should read the whole post. Here’s a few highlights.

Redfin Has Not Been Hindered by the MLS

The study’s claim that it is unnecessarily cumbersome for “Redfin to be licensed brokers” in every state or to “apply for and maintain membership in every single MLS within these states” is wrong. Redfin’s expansion efforts haven’t been hindered in the slightest by MLS licensing requirements because we already require a brokerage license to employ agents and serve customers. We join the local Multiple Listing Service not only to access other agents’ listings, but to distribute our own agents’ listings to others.”

Okay.

Local Differences Between MLSs are Not Nefarious

To be sure, the study is right that Redfin incurs costs accommodating differences in MLS data about waterfront properties in Seattle, gated communities in Phoenix, or historical registries in Richmond. These differences are cumbersome for brokerages as well as third-party portals, and, as a strong supporter of the Real Estate Standards Organization, Redfin has advocated for standardization where possible. But the local differences that exist today aren’t nefarious or anti-competitive.”

Much different tone than these guys, what could possibly be the reason??

The MLSs Are Not Discriminating Against Low-Fee Brokers

We thus find each of the study’s claims about Redfin to be wrong. The authors of this study could have avoided making claims about Redfin that Redfin itself would dispute, just by contacting us beforehand. Our position on the MLS and data syndication is well known: we’ve stated publicly many times that we’re a strong supporter of the Multiple Listing Services’ efforts to share listing data among all brokers, especially small brokers who compete aggressively on price.”

One could argue initiatives like Upstream are more about helping larger brokers, and stifling smaller brokers or brokerages with alternative business models like Redfin.

Maybe the real reason that brokers belonging to groups like The Realty Alliance want to circumvent MLS Providers is that MLS Executives are doing their job, maintaining a fair marketplace, and doing it well.

Sit here, look at the camera, and read this.

If you look closely you can see Alex blinking “Get me out of here” in morse code.

Blame The MLS!

More Upstream drama

Andrea Brambila at Inman News wrote a story about how a few NAR Directors were under the impression that Upstream would be REALTOR Only. Not the case says NAR…

“Yet just recently over the last few weeks, three NAR directors told Inman they voted to fund Upstream under the presumption it would be available exclusively to Realtors — that is, certified, dues-paying NAR members. NAR and Upstream’s leadership, however, disagree, saying they have always maintained Upstream would be available to all brokers, not just Realtors.”

Someone has some explaining to do…

“Diana Bull, a Santa Barbara, California broker who says she’s been an NAR director for the last 31 years and a member of RPR’s advisory board since 2009, also seemed astonished to find out that Upstream would not just be for Realtors.

“This is really an anomaly,” Bull told Inman. “For NAR to fund millions of dollars for Upstream … for brokers who are not Realtors … it’s something that I really have to look into and it’s something that I should know about being on the RPR advisory board and being in the positions I hold.”

She, like Frank and Stroman, believes other NAR directors also voted in favor of Upstream funding thinking it was going to be a tool only for Realtors. “It was never discussed that non-Realtors would have this benefit after we have funded millions of dollars for Upstream, now twice,” she said.”

Well, this whole drama got NAR leadership involved. Newly appointed NAR CEO Bob Goldberg penned a letter to the membership. Which is pretty unusual.

“Some of you have read Inman’s latest article, which questions whether Upstream should be available to brokers who are not REALTORS®, as well as our NAR membership.

Since the very beginning, the Upstream contract outlined both a member and non-member pricing approach. That has never changed, and many products and services in this industry follow the same model.

NAR offers products to both REALTORS® and non-members and gives NAR members preferred pricing. Multiple listing services are also an example of a service that is available to both REALTORS® and non-members.

This approach can incentivize non-members to join the association to get more attractive pricing.

I think it would also be useful to clarify here that RPR is a vendor for Upstream RE, LLC; Upstream is independent from NAR. Upstream’s approach is driven by the large brokers on Upstream’s Board.

Effective January 1, 2019, Upstream RE, LLC will be responsible for 100% of all operation costs, with some dollars coming back to NAR.

I would caution everyone here to consider the context behind and genesis of stories like these. This particular article is clearly written toward a specific point of view and positioned to benefit the interests of some of the MLSs versus those of our members, who ultimately own this listing and intellectual property data.

Bob”

Emphasis mine.

Seems like Bob might be reading former NAR CEO Dale Stinton’s playbook…

RULE #1: Blame the MLS.

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