Houston Realtors Drop “Master” Bedroom Terminology

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It was discussed at a meeting of the HAR early in June, during the height of the protests surrounding the death of George Floyd (among many, many others). Some Realtors expressed the opinion that the term “master” can be construed as both sexist and racist, so they looked to get it changed.

Nobody had an issue with the term ‘primary,’ so the change was accepted.

And you know what? I don’t know that this change is on the agenda for the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors, but I think I’m going to adopt it on a personal level.

In fact, I’ve already updated all my marketing materials to reflect the change.

Now, I don’t think this is the end-all be-all solution, but I do consider it an important step. I think that it sends a message to people of color: we’re willing to listen to you and we want to honor your needs.

The terminology here probably isn’t the most offensive or harmful. We say far worse things in everyday speech that are founded in historical racism (look up the origins of the term “grandfather clause” – another phrase I believe we should eliminate – if you want your blood to boil).

The level of disrespect and intent behind something doesn’t really matter, either. I also don’t think the number of people hurt by something is relevant. Most people probably aren’t concerned about the term ‘master bedroom,’ but some are, and they matter, so we should feel obligated to relinquish our traditional speech as it has been deemed harmful. We shouldn’t ask further questions. We shouldn’t consider the mild inconvenience to change. We should simply choose to listen and then evolve. That’s a duty.

A similar change happened in the belly dance community a few months ago. A specific substyle of belly dance, called tribal style, was called into question by a few well-known dancers with sizable followings. It was proposed that we re-brand as a community. Most of us obliged, although there were a few who chose not to for the sake of tradition.

I think that’s probably likely to be the push-back we see with the change of terminology when it comes to primary bedrooms, too: tradition. I don’t think tradition is a great argument when it comes to real estate, though. The real estate industry is huge and all-encompassing. It includes the entirety of the Earth and everything that is built upon it, as well as everything below the ground and everything extending upward infinitely. If there is a single industry that has an obligation to remain up-to-date to human desires and necessities, it’s real estate.

And most of us honor that. Most of us choose to embrace new developments because they make our lives better and easier (nearly every agent I know, no matter what age they may be, is certainly considered an early adopter of technologies because technology helps us stay sane, organized, and productive – and make a lot more money).

I think we already have the mentality necessary to see change and progress as a good thing. I think our industry just needs to see the changes in terminology as equivalently progressive. If you are an agent who is having trouble embracing this change, consider this: you use the internet extensively because it allows you to meet your clients where they already are. We are all on our phones. We are all on our computers. This medium lets you reach consumers where they’re comfortable.

The language we use is equivalently important to the medium. Embrace this new terminology because it will allow you to, again, meet clients where they are emotionally. It will let you send a very clear message to your clients: I support you and I believe you are valid and worthy of my respect.

Let’s make the change.

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