Using the term “master” bedroom is racist now, several real estate groups say.
In an article headlined “No more ‘master’ bedrooms: Minnesota real estate listings aim for inclusivity,” which appeared in the Star Tribune, a handful of Minnesota real estate agents claim that calling the biggest bedroom and bathroom in a house the “master” is “discriminatory” and racist.
“I’m a person of color and every time the term ‘master bedroom’ was used, I kept saying to myself, ‘I don’t like how it sounds,'” one listing agent and “educator in a racism and real estate continuing education class for Minnesota industry professionals,” told the Tribune. “Now as I’m walking through a property, I’ll just say it’s the owners’ or primary suite.”
In the subhead, the author explained that “a new real estate terminology is emerging during a time of racial reckoning as many agents drop biased language” and later suggested that “several Twin Cities area listing agents and real estate companies have been phasing out the word ‘master’ because of its association with slavery.”
The term "master bedroom" first appeared in a Sears catalog about six decades after slavery was abolished. It has nothing at all to do with plantation life. But the truth is not at all relevant to race-hustling con artists like Ben Crump. https://t.co/KzGYJ4m7in
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) August 10, 2021
Minnesota realtors aren’t the only ones who say the term needs to be abolished from the industry to avoid offending someone. Shortly after George Floyd’s death in May 2020, the Houston Association of Realtors opted to switch from using the word “master” bedroom and bathroom to using “primary” instead. While the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) concluded that “master” “was not a discriminatory violation under U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development standards,” the group still encouraged realtors to use “primary” instead.
“It makes sense for the industry to coalesce around a new term to clearly define what it represents and ensure ongoing productive communication between professionals and their communities,” RESO said.
In addition to combatting “racist” terminology, some real estate groups are pushing to phase out “gender-specific” language such as “man cave” or “she shed” for the alternative “accessory dwelling unit” or “den” to avoid offending transgender or nonbinary people. Instead of “mother-in-law suite,” realtors are supposed to say “guesthouse” or “in-law suite,” and any rooms that hint at the two sexes such as “Jack-and-Jill bathroom” should be replaced with “dual-entry bathroom.”
“Avoiding terms that could offend a buyer or seller just makes good business sense, industry experts say,” the article states.