When I started in estate agency in Milton Keynes in the late 1970s, we would write an applicant’s name, address, phone number etc on sheets of paper. Not just any old sheet of paper though, these were smartly printed with the words Applicant Requirement Form at the top.

Of course, these sheets of paper were never called that. They were (in recognition of the then colloquial term for an applicant) always referred to as “punter sheets”.

Sometime in the 1980s, these pieces of paper became cards and the ring binders became index boxes, so we then had punter cards and punter boxes. The biggest obstacle to this exciting innovation at the time was the concern about the risk of what would happen if a box ever fell over – how the world has changed….

In the absence of the internet, there were only two ways that a 1980’s sales negotiator could make something happen. Could make a sale out of nothing. Wait for that week’s newspaper to hit doormats or pick up the phone to their “punters”. Lazy negotiators did the former, successful ones did the latter. This phone activity then became known as Punting, as in “have you done all today’s punting yet Scarffo?”.

When I moved to Birmingham in the early 90’s I discovered that in that part of the world, Punting was known as Hot Boxing. A few years later I got to know the North West of England and found that there it was called Hot Listing. It was Phone Outs in Essex, Priority Buyer Lists in London and so it went on.

In pre-Internet UK, every agent did the same. The lifeblood of a sales negotiator back then was his or her punter box (or whatever it was called). Every New Instruction, every Back On, every Price Reduction (and let’s face it, every vendor that had just come in to complain) was “punted” until at least a couple of viewings had been booked on every property.

Without this, far fewer sales would have been made. Far fewer people would have ended up living happily for years in something that was not at all like what they described when they first started looking !!

But does “punting” still happen today? Recent personal experience suggests not and if that’s the case then maybe I understand why some people say “Portals have made agents lazy”

So -

If you were an Agent before 1998, what did you call “punting” and for you, does it still form an essential part of making sales happen?

If you are an Agent who has known nothing other than Portals and emails, do you have a form of “punting” in your marketing cycle? What do you call it?

Either way, do you think that Portals have made Agents lazy?

Please let me know…..


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