One of my friends is about to start up her own business – acting as an agent for people wanting help in purchasing real estate – a Buyers’ Agent (as opposed to the normal type of real estate agent, who acts solely for the vendor).
She was showing off her new logo to us, when someone pointed out – shouldn’t it be “Buyers’ Agent”, rather than “Buyer’s Agent” ?
Now, being a bit of an aficionado of the oft-abused apostrophe (and brother of a self-confessed “apostrophe nazi”), I consulted my “trusty” reference, Lynne Truss’s book “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” (as opposed to Lynne Truss’ book, which I really don’t like – there should always be an extra ‘s’ on the end, except for exceptions, of course).
As for the plural possessive versus singular possessive, in this case I think there is room for debate.
Is she an agent for buyers or an agent for a buyer ?
Here’s the catch – I say she is both!
In general, she acts for all the buyers out there who wish to use her services, at which point she is a Buyers’ Agent, and indeed, her business would not be terriby successful (and the real estate market would be completely dead) if she was Buyer’s Agent for that one-and-only buyer out there !
However, when acting for an individual, she is indeed a Buyer’s Agent, she is the agent for that buyer at that time, and then she will proceed to be a Buyer’s Agent for her next client, then the next, and so forth.
So which is it ? Well, as this will be on her logo, and she is making a general statement, I would suggest that she should go with the former – she is a Buyers’ Agent … since she doesn’t want to give anyone who is over-observant, the impression that she only has or needs a single client!
But that’s just my opinion.
Hopefully it will be easy enough to have her logo corrected – I don’t think she had business cards or letterhead printed up yet!
Ziggy's Warehouse says
My take (no more valid that anyone else)…
Her business is to represent the buyer in the transaction. I’d say she is a Buyer’s Agent as there is only one buyer per transaction.
If she was representing a large collective of buyers she would be a Buyers’ agent. Although that is unlikely in a real estate context.
Also as Shanina wrote the client focus favours “Buyer’s Agent”.
Yippee! Given my surname ends in an “s” I always felt left out, naked even, without the possessive “‘s”. I didn’t realise I too could join the club.
From a business perspective, every client should perceive that they are the sole focus of the service-delivers attention. In this case the client is the buyer, and they should therefore feel that your friend, the service-provider, will be there for them 24 hours a day.
From a marketing and client service perspective I believe “Buyer’s Agent” is the wisest choice.
After all, it’s ALWAYS all about the client, isn’t it?
A dilemma indeed. Over many years I have debated this very issue with Dave, a respected colleague. This usually occurs in the lead-up to Mother’s Day – or should that be Mothers’Day? Later in the year we would revisit the debate in regard to Father’s Day/Fathers’ Day.
While it is true to say that I have but one mother, I am inclined to use Mother’s Day as the correct usage, for the day is special in relation to my mother and only my mother. It would be incorrect to use Mothers’ Day because I only have one mother (unless I had been adopted, and was celebrating a day dedicated to both my birth and adopted mothers, assuming I know both of them.)
The arguement should end there – or should it? The day is set aside to celebrate all mothers, hence it should be correctly termed Mothers’ Day.
There is a simple solution: change the name to Mothering Sunday as it is so celebrated historically in the UK.
Footnote: that great Fount of All Knowledge, Wikipedia, uses the singular possessive apostrophe, namely Mother’s Day.