The calculation of real estate on ‘master bedrooms’ as a racist term came after years of discussion – but many home builders ditched the term years ago
In the aftermath of the Black Lives Matter protests earlier this summer, there’s also a math on product names and even the etymology of language used in some industries.
The real estate industry made a slow decision that took years to stop using the word “master”. The move came as other industries reassessed their use of the language in a racial context. GitHub, an MSFT company owned by Microsoft,
which hosts a software development platform, announced in July that he would no longer use the terms “master” and “slave” to describe versions of projects. In the world of photography, Canon CAJFF,
also said he would be eliminate the terms “master” and “slave” to describe modes on cameras and other devices.
But the movement to abandon the “master bedroom” is not new. Behind the scenes, some major players in the real estate industry have been skipping the term for years. Home builders, in particular, have stopped using the terminology. PHM Groupe Pulte,
instead, the expression “owner’s suite” has been used for several years. Lennar Corp. LEN,
recently chose to standardize the “owner’s suite” in its markets.
Internally, the National Association of Home Builders changed the language of its survey to use the phrase “master bedroom,” a spokesperson told MarketWatch. “We have heard that members are changing to use other descriptions such as master bedroom or master suite,” she said.
But it took weeks of nationwide protests sparked by police killings of blacks in custody and by police across the United States for the Houston Association of Realtors. to be announced at the end of June that he would no longer use the word “master” to describe the largest bedroom and bathroom in a house because some of its members viewed the term as racist.
Instead, the Realtor group chooses to use the word “primary” on the multiple listing service platform that realtors use to search for available properties.
In Chicago, local brokerage @properties also informed its employees that same month, it would stop using the term “master” to describe bedrooms and bathrooms on its website and in its marketing materials. The brokerage’s agents, who are independent contractors, are not prohibited from using the word, the company noted.
“It’s a little change we can make that seems easy and obvious. What is most important is not the origin of the term “master bedroom”, but rather the fact that it is offensive to some on the basis of race and gender “, the the company said.
Many turned sour in the “master” bedroom – not always because of race
For many, the phrase “master bedroom” is associated with slavery and conjures up images of violence against people of color.
“It’s a repeating reminder of slavery and plantations,” said Donnell Williams, president of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers. “I don’t think it’s appropriate, and I’m glad someone mentioned it.”
The origins of the expression do not seem to come from the era of slavery. In fact, the term was first used in 1925, according to Merriam-Webster. The real estate brokerage Trelora cites the oldest known reference to a master bedroom as appearing in a 1926 Sears SHLDQ,
advertisement for a prefabricated house.
In 1995, under the Clinton administration, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development ruled that the use of the term “master bedroom” was not considered discriminatory under the Fair Housing Act.
And some people’s objections to the expression do not stem from concerns about its racial implications. One definition of the word master is male head of household, according to Merriam-Webster. “Based on the discussion that took place, more members viewed the terms as sexist than racist, although some viewed them as racist,” the Houston Association of Realtors noted during the discussion of the name change. “Others didn’t personally see them as sexist or racist, but thought we should change the terms for anyone else who might find them objectionable. The consensus was that the Primary described the pieces as well as the Master while avoiding any possible misperception.
Broad support for a new term has yet to materialize
A survey of 300 real estate agents conducted by HomeLight found that around 26% were in favor of replacing the master word, and only 8% of agents said they had buyers or sellers expressing discomfort with the term.
Many factors will make it difficult to abandon the “main” bedroom and bathroom. For starters, most multiple ad services nationwide still use this term. These platforms store data on different properties and are used to generate information about the homes listed for sale. There isn’t a single national MLS, however – there are more than 800 nationwide, according to the National Association of Realtors.
“You have to think about the MLS service in any market because they have to standardize the terminology,” said Jeff Cohn, president and CEO of Cohn Marketing, a Denver-based marketing agency that works with real estate brokers. among other clients.
““This needs to be looked at from a national perspective from an organization like the National Association of Realtors. ““
Individual brokerage houses will have a hard time adopting new terminology if their area’s MLS still uses the old term. Some argue that for broader change to occur, it will require the participation of key national industry leaders.
“This needs to be looked at from a national perspective from an organization like the National Association of Realtors,” Cohn said. “If they decide, ‘Yeah, that’s where we want to go as an industry,’ that’s where you’ll see real change because it won’t be a fluke. “
Cohn also said major influencers, especially home improvement and design channel HGTV, will play a role in this cultural reset. “If you start to see them using the new terminology I think a lot more would follow,” he said.
The National Association of Estate Agents “has no objection to the use of other terminology if the consensus evolves that the word has taken on a new meaning,” said the chairman of the organization, Vince Malta , in a press release sent by email.
Jane Latman, President of HGTV DISCA,
, told MarketWatch in an email that the network continues to have discussions about the language it uses. “Renovating hundreds of hours of shows already shot and aired isn’t always doable, but we’ll be more thoughtful and have raised this issue with our production partners,” Latman said. “We are determined to make future changes and want to use words that are more descriptive and inclusive, like master bedroom or master bedroom instead of master bedroom. “
Others argue the real estate industry has more pressing issues to consider
As the discussion of the term “master bedroom” continues, some insist the real estate industry has bigger changes that it could tackle in the name of social justice.
“The truth is, there are opportunities for improvement far beyond marketing terminology in the industry,” said Drew Uher, CEO of HomeLight. “Much broader issues still need to be addressed – ramifications of redlining and piloting, inequalities in wealth, access to down payment and diversity in the industry between agents, brokerage houses and advice from real estate agents – which would lead to lasting change and move us forward towards equality.
The homeownership rate among black Americans has historically been lower than that of white Americans, and last year it fell to its lowest level in decades. And in the current context of the coronavirus pandemic, black and Hispanic Americans are disproportionately struggling to pay their monthly housing payments.
“There has to be an African American home ownership program,” Williams said, pointing to India’s Section 184 home loan guarantee program designed to boost Native American home ownership as a model. .