Mega-Broker Portal: Will homebuyers be left Upstream without a buyer agent?


Anyone else trying to make sense of the controversy surrounding Upstream, the code name for the mega-Broker Public Portal? Yesterday, Inman News published a guest opinion asking:  “Will Upstream be good for everyone?”  Not only was this author’s answer NO, but his prediction appeared as the subhead to the story:  “This seems like nothing more than another round of NAR vs. the DOJ.”  Other Inman readers, including the comment in the image above, added more reasons why. (share this URL if you’re an Inman subscriber)

Buyer agents:  blind spot or irrelevant?

Surprisingly, the only reference to buyer agent or buyer agency is a disparaging remark in one of the comments.  Should that be expected in a controversy about listing data, or does it reflect a blindness to agency duties and the fading role / relevance of buyer agents?  Blanket statements like these excerpts used to be fighting words — where’s the outrage?

“Your Listing, Your Lead” should be our mantra

“The broker, and only the broker will be in control of where it’s data goes.”

Maybe it’s premature to expect a comprehensive critique, and consumer advocates and tech innovators will eventually respond to Brad Inman’s assessment:

Finally, after a year of meeting in private, the Upstream founders are out of the closet. Now, their actions and motives can be openly discussed and debated.  And knowing what they are up to, pressure can be put on them to do the right thing.

What is the right thing to protect the public interest — particularly in an era of open data where emerging tools allow consumers to control access to their data? Yesterday’s fight was about who controls listing data, but a more important question is on the horizon — who owns and controls the data flowing from billions of sensors as SmartHomes and the Internet of Things become building blocks in a new real estate ecosystem?

Tracking the controversy

What is the best site / social media channel to follow to try to get a better / (and hopefully accurate) understanding of Upstream?  Has anyone created an infographic showing what problem / who’s problem Upstream is trying to solve?  Finally, what intended or unintended impacts will Upstream have on consumers — particularly homebuyers and the buyer agents they hire to represent them?

Future proofing versus emerging trends

What impact will Upstream have in the short-term, mid and long term, when:

  1. In 2020, the Great Senior Sell-Off will cause a glut of listings and pocket listings and low inventory are replaced by expired / canceled listings and auctions?
  2. Or in 2025, when the trillion sensor economy will have a disruptive impact on multiple industries, including health care and real estate?

If “my listing, my lead” is the mantra, where is the homebuyer’s right to their own advocate in this Realtor family fight?  Conversely, where is the homeowners’s right to make an informed decision about how to maximize exposure for their listing?  Will games Upstream unintentionally trigger new regulations to protect consumers?

Wonder if the DOJ, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or Senator Elizabeth Warren’s staff are listening?

Flashback: Real Estate Cartel revisited?

September marks the 10th anniversary of this FTC & DOJ workshop on competition in real estate. Writing then, Blanche Evans of RealtyTimes said the industry was unfairly persecuted because the government agencies and the speakers they selected to testify did not understand “fundamentals of the real estate industry — namely that the broker owns the listing.”

Do the proponents of Upstream and commentators understand or care about agency law?


​Unless my browser search is not working properly, NONE of the Inman stories below includes a single reference to buyer agent or buyer agency in the text or comments. Nor does the RISMEDIA story that Upstream defenders reference:

Project Upstream Revealed (share this URL)

What should RECALL — Real Estate Consumer Alliance — do to address that blind spot?  Or am I the one who’s blind, what are fellow real estate consumer advocates and buyer agents already saying?


UPDATE:  A comment on another Inman News story published May 16, 2015 made this observation:  “MLS is no longer the only market! Listing agents post properties without putting them on the MLS saving their seller the buyer agent commission, or pocketing it themselves.” Here’s a link to story on Upstream funding from NAR & the comment above:  (share this URL if you’re an Inman subscriber)

Posted in Buyer agent, Consumer protection, Defensive Homebuying, Disrupt Real Estate, Great Senior Sell-Off, IoT: Internet of Things, Pocket Listings, Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance, reVRM, Uncategorized

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