A recent independent study on Upstream asked more than 300 broker-owners and top executives at leading franchises and independent brokerage firms, “What advice would you give to the new Upstream CEO, Alex Lange?” Upstream, the new real estate brokerage-driven effort to streamline listing and sales data and its online delivery, has garnered tremendous initial support from real estate leadership, but they also have some advice for Alex.
Their replies are particularly interesting – and worth sharing – because these experts run companies responsible for more than half of all U.S. residential real estate deals last year. Here are a few “themes” that can be gleaned from their advice to Alex.
Communication and transparency: These were the most prevalent words of advice given to Alex by dozens of industry leaders. If “location, location, location” is the real estate mantra, two broker-owners suggested that the Upstream mantra be, “communicate, communicate, communicate.” Real estate leaders made it clear that they want to be included in the dialogue, and stressed the importance for Alex to be consistently “transparent.”
One Minneapolis-based broker-owner wrote: “If this is truly a collaborative effort designed to be beneficial to the industry as a whole (including MLSs), let them look behind the curtain.” “The lack of industry understanding,” another broker wrote, “could be fixed through outreach.” “(Upstream) needs to get the word out to agents, lenders and vendors. Too many people don’t understand what it is and how it will help.”
Another leader from Texas added this dire caution: “One falsehood, exaggeration or even unintended representation misstep will kill the credibility of the project forever.” Conversely, a broker-owner from Kentucky shared this: “Please over-communicate the value and exactly how it will work/benefit all agents, brokerages, customers, etc. so we can provide detailed information to our teams and help get this wonderful platform in place.”
Keep your focus: The phrases were different, but the message was the same. Some words of advice that real estate leaders provided to Alex included: “Stay focused,” “Stay on track,” “Stay on mission,” “Stay the course,” “Keep at it,” “Keep it moving,” “Keep it simple,” and “Stay strong,” among many other similar pieces of advice.
Go fast or go slow? Industry experts were a bit divided on their advice to Alex on how fast – or slow – they think he should move. About a dozen broker owners wanted Alex to push forward rapidly: “Get this thing off the ground fast,” a Chicagoland broker shared. Another broker from New Jersey offered, “Let’s get this done this year,” followed by an executive at a brokerage on the Central Coast of California who wrote, “Move quickly, the industry has needed this for a long time.” A Nebraska broker simply added, “Hurry.”
But another half-dozen leaders echoed a different sentiment: “Go slow and keep the agents and brokerages top of mind when making decisions,” wrote a broker from Pennsylvania, with a major brokerage executive adding, “Slow Down. Get the Local Boards and MLS involved.” And brokers representing firms based in California, Florida, Virginia and Texas offered the same advice: “Patience.”
Listen: While many industry leaders want Alex to aggressively spread the Upstream message and educate the industry about its value, other leaders want Alex to attend to what others have to say. “Listen more than you talk,” shared a Colorado broker-owner with a major franchise. “Listen to brokers, don’t politicize the project, don’t let MLSs interfere,” added another Michigan executive with a large independent brokerage. “Listen to practitioners,” wrote a leader with a brokerage on the Northern coast of Florida. “Listen to the biggest brokerage firms (franchises), they have a pretty good pulse for what we need,” offered a Michigan broker-owner who works for a major franchise, while a broker who works for the same brand but in Georgia wrote, “Listen to the individual brokers who provide the information, not just the executives of the firms.
The grassroots is what plants and harvests the crops, and while the franchises/corporations provide the structure, they, at many times, have different motivators that do not serve the same purpose. It is about the public, the agent and the owners that took the risk to start the firms.”
Remember, this Upstream study (results are available here) showed overwhelming support for Upstream from the real estate brokerage industry. The vast majority of real estate leaders – 84 percent – say they are supportive of Upstream. The support and confidence of this group is also reflected in their advice to Alex, and may be best summed up by an executive with one of the largest brands in real estate, who wrote: “Damn the torpedoes…Full speed ahead!”