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Is ‘Master’ Bedroom Racist? Builders Dropped It Years Ago

PulteGroup and Lennar started using “owner’s suite” a few years ago, and NAHB now uses the term “primary bedroom” in all its internal surveys.

NEW YORK – In the aftermath of widespread Black Lives Matter protests, there’s a reckoning about product names and even the etymology of the language used in certain industries. As a result, some people in the real estate industry are now dropping the word “master” as a description for bedrooms and bathrooms.

However, the change isn’t new for some major real estate companies, notably home builders who stopped using the word years ago. PulteGroup has used the phrase “owner’s suite” instead for several years, and Lennar Corp. recently chose to standardize “owner’s suite” across its markets.

Internally, the National Association of Home Builders altered its survey language to use the phrase “primary bedroom.”

Many associate the phrase “master bedroom” with slavery while others dislike it for its gender connotations, as one definition of the word “master” is a male head of household. While a survey of 300 real-estate agents conducted by HomeLight found that roughly 26% supported replacing the word “master,” though, only 8% of agents reported having buyers or sellers that expressed any discomfort with the term.

Multiple factors make a shift from “master” bedroom and bathroom difficult. Most multiple listing services in the U.S. still use the term, for example, and some argue that for broader change to occur, it will take the involvement of major national industry leaders and influencers.

Others argue that the term isn’t as important as other industry issues in the fight for social justice, such as the ramifications of redlining and wealth inequality.

Source: MarketWatch (08/05/20) Passy, Jacob

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