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Realtor association drops 'master' from bedroom, bathroom listings

A master bedroom with a balcony door open. (Getty Images)
A master bedroom with a balcony door open. (Getty Images)
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The Houston Association of Realtors (HAR) is dropping the word "master" from bedroom and bathroom listings and replacing it with the word "primary," according to KPRC.

Several HAR members called for the association to change the way it describes master bedrooms and master bathrooms due to the word "master," which has been linked to sexism and slavery.

HAR sent a statement to its members stating:

The MLS Advisory Group regularly reviews the terms and fields used in the MLS to make sure they are consistent with the current market environment. The updates to Primary Bedroom and Primary Bath were among nine requests for review that were submitted by members and considered at the most recent meetings. It was not a new suggestion to review the terminology. The overarching message was that some members were concerned about how the terms might be perceived by some other agents and consumers. The consensus was that Primary describes the rooms equally as well as Master while avoiding any possible misperceptions.”

While HAR will not use the term, the realtor association is not banning agents from using the word. The statement continues:

You may still use the term ‘Master Bedroom’ or ‘Master Bath’ as you feel appropriate in your marketing materials and in the Public Remarks, Agent Remarks, and photo descriptions."

The first known use of the phrase "master bedroom" was in the 1926 Sears Catalog. The popular catalog referred to a room in a Dutch colonial home as "the master's bedroom," according to real estate blog Trelora.

The word "master" is used to describe a male, compared to the female form "mistress," leading many to call the phrase sexist.

Tiffany Curry, a Houston real estate broker who is the first African-American owner of a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices franchise, supports the change, telling the Houston Chronicle:

Master' represents a stigma and place in time that we need to move forward from. As a progressive, diverse city, Houston should be reflective of its citizenship."

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says the term "master bedroom" is not discriminatory therefore it does not violate fair housing laws.

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The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released a statement saying there is no evidence the term is linked to slavery, saying:

NAR sees no reason that real estate professionals cannot use the term, as there is also no evidence that it has any historical connection to slavery or any other kind of discrimination."
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