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Project Upstream should be a tremendous benefit for Zillow

Project Upstream, as far as I can tell, is all about consolidating the MLS data. Zillow currently has to take data from hundreds of MLS organizations, in a variety of formats, and consolidate it to put it on Zillow. Once Upstream is completed, they will have one nice data set that includes all the data nationwide in one format. It will be a huge benefit for them, other portals, and large brokers that cover multiple states.

As for individual agents that cover just one area like myself, there are no benefits that I can see. I only need data in the specific area I sell in, and my MLS already provides me this data. There is no benefit for me to have data from areas I am not active in.

In addition, the very specific data for my location might change their format. For example, in our MLS, we have no data field for heating. In Hawaii, no homes have heat. If everything is consolidated, there will now be a heating data field, which might require some updates to Hawaii based websites to make sure that field is excluded.

The same would happen for fields we have that others do not. For example, we have a Leasehold field vs. Fee Simple.  Most areas in the United States do not have Leasehold purchases, but when the data is consolidated, we need to keep our Leasehold/Fee Simple field, so others will see that field in the consolidated data.

These are not major changes, but any time the data structure changes, anyone who imports data has to verify their import will keep working.

I know NAR is not investing in Project Upstream to benefit Zillow, however, because Zillow does cover every state, no one will benefit more.

About Bryn Kaufman

Principal Broker and creator of OahuRE.com, one of the most popular websites on Oahu. I enjoy working with PHP, MySQL, jQuery, JavaScript, HTML5, Ajax and more. I am always looking to improve my Website and business. When not working, I enjoy spending time with my family and doing anything on or in the Ocean.

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  • I’m not sure I follow you argument. How does zillow benefit from project upstream having consolidated data? You think project upstream will send all that data to zillow in the future?

    • Zillow spends a lot of time and money to take all the data from various sources and get it all formatted to go on Zillow. Upstream will do this for them, so they save a lot of time and money vs. doing it themselves. Also, it will include ALL listings, so they will now have easy access to all listings.

      I believe most MLS organizations send their data to Zillow now, I see no reason in the future why this practice would change. Upstream is not about holding anything back from the big portals, if we wanted to do that we could do that today, it is about consolidating data, so all data will continue to flow to Zillow.

      • “Upstream will do this for them”

        I still don’t buy this thinking.

        • My understanding of Upstream is they are consolidating data and everyone will start getting their data from Upstream instead of all the local MLS data sources.

          I assume what you are saying then is this is not the case, everyone (including Zillow) will still get their data from the local MLS data sources as we do now. If that is the case, then I don’t really understand what Upstream is.

          • Maybe you’re right.

            @robhahn:disqus?

          • I found a brochure on Notorious’s website, and the summary says:

            “..providing MLSs with a common data repository (Back End) and a system of user interfaces (Front Ends) that support MLS listing entry and management functions in the common database.”

            So I see this “common database” as one big MLS, especially if we start entering our data into the front end of Upstream.

            So I think my point make sense, Zillow will receive a tremendous benefit from a common database because they cover the entire country, for agents and others who cover just one area having a common database with a lot of data from outside our area is not so helpful.

            While NAR does not want to promote this as a tremendous benefit for Zillow, the fact is Zillow covers the entire country, most agents and Brokers do not, and Zillow does receive tremendous benefits now from downloading the MLS data, so having a common database to download will definitely be beneficial for them.

            The point of my post is I find it ironic that NAR will be spending hundreds of millions to benefit Zillow, other portals, and a few big brokers, while offering no benefit to agents and smaller Brokers. However, it is individual agents who are providing the funding via their NAR dues.

    • Zillow spends a lot of time and money to take all the data from various sources and get it all formatted to go on Zillow. Upstream will do this for them, so they save a lot of time and money vs. doing it themselves. Also, it will include ALL listings, so they will now have easy access to all listings.

      I believe most MLS organizations send their data to Zillow now, I see no reason in the future why this practice would change. Upstream is not about holding anything back from the big portals, if we wanted to do that we could do that today, it is about consolidating data, so all data will continue to flow to Zillow.

  • In the end, Upstream will benefit Zillow – I agree. The end result is…..Zillow is smart and the real estate intelligencia is stupid. That may sound a little harsh, but its the cold, hard truth.

    • It makes you wonder what is going out at these NAR meetings where all the Directors vote. What are they telling them this is going to do? Have they considered what they were told about RPR breaking even and the $100 million or so that has been wasted on it.

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