Some Realtors No Longer Using 'Master' To Describe Bedrooms, Bathrooms


Monday, June 29th 2020, 9:51 am
By: CBS News


The Houston Association of Realtors (HAR) will no longer use the term "master" to describe the primary bedroom of a home on their housing listings. The term "master" has roots in slavery, and HAR says the topic of removing it from realty terminology has been debated for years.

Now, the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) platform that HAR uses for listings, will use "primary bedroom" and "primary bath," HAR said in a statement to CBS News. The association noted that some members viewed the word "master" as sexist others viewed it as racist.

"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," HAR's statement reads. The change of primary bedroom and primary bath were among nine requests members submitted for review, HAR said.

The topic has also been raised and considered for many years, "so it was not a new suggestion to review the terminology," HAR said, adding that many homebuilders stopped using the term "master bedroom" years ago. 

"The overarching message was that some members were concerned about how the terms might be perceived by some other agents and consumers. Based on the discussion that took place, more members viewed the terms as sexist than racist, although some did view them as racist," the statement continues.

The term is not classified as discriminatory by HUD and it does not violate Fair Housing laws, according to HAR. So, the association will not ban the term, and will allow realtors to still use it in marketing, public remarks and photo descriptions. 

"The origin of the terms is debated, and we are not saying they are rooted in slavery. Others didn't personally view them as sexist or racist but believed we should change the terms for anyone else who might find them objectionable. The consensus was that Primary describes the rooms equally as well as Master while avoiding any possible misperceptions," the statement reads. 

Others are doing away with the term "master." Earlier this month, GitHub, the world's biggest site for software developers, decided to drop the coding term "master," and change it to a more neutral word, BBC News reports. There had been a years-long campaign to change the terminology on GitHub, which is owned by Microsoft and used by 50 million developers to store and update its coding projects, according to BBC News. 

Earlier this month, The Court of Master Sommeliers said they would change the use of the term "master," which is used to address those who have attained the "ultimate title" of sommeliers, New York Times reports. Now, surnames will be added to the "Master Sommeliers" title. 

In 2016, Harvard removed the word "master" from academic titles. The university changed the term "house masters," to "faculty deans" after students protested, BBC reports.