Black Lives Matter, a movement highlighting racial injustice in the U.S., has been at the forefront of many American’s minds for the past several weeks. Amid protests spurred by the killing of George Floyd last month, many companies and organizations have chosen to reflect on their branding and business practices — and that includes the real estate industry. One such organization is the Texas-based Houston Association of Realtors (HAR), which will be replacing the use of the word “master” to describe bedrooms and bathrooms in homes.
Progressive Real Estate
Several members voiced concerns over the term “master” and requested a review — due to it’s association with slavery and the era of antebellum U.S.A. In response to this concern, the association voted to replace the use of the word “master” with “primary.”
The Texas Realtor Association has made the decision to remove the word “master” from the descriptions on its multiple listing service, and have instead asked real estate agents to use an alternative term on their MLS.
Hailed by many as a progressive decision amid increasing calls for racial justice, the real estate industry is just one of the businesses making changes.
The Court of Master Sommeliers, the body which grants wine stewards the sought-after designation of “master sommelier,” is also ceasing the use of the term “master” before their sommelier’s last names.
Is this the End of “Master” in Real Estate?
“Master” is among nine words that members requested for review, according to HAR’s official statement. The MLS Advisory Group frequently reviews commonly used terms in the MLS to ensure that they are consistent with the current real estate market environment.
Unsurprisingly, HAR stated that the request to review the terminology “master” was not a new suggestion. Several members felt that other agents and clients could negatively perceive the term. In contrast, the group determined that the word “Primary” accurately describes the rooms while also avoiding potential misperceptions.
HAR stated that while the use of “master” is discouraged, realtors do not face a complete ban. Agents can still use the word where appropriate in their photo descriptions and marketing materials as well as agent and public remarks.
In addition, according to the Chronicle., the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has issued a statement to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) stating that they do not believe the term “master” is discriminatory.