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'Master bedroom' getting dropped from home sale listings over slavery connotations as 'wokeness' spreads among Minnesota realtors

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Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Jackie Berry — a listing agent for Edina Realty in Minnesota who teaches a racism and real estate continuing education class — told the Star Tribune the term "master bedroom" hasn't exactly sat well with her.

"There's a hidden discriminatory piece that falls when you say 'master' bedroom," she told the paper.

"I'm a person of color and every time the term 'master bedroom' was used, I kept saying to myself, 'I don't like how it sounds.' Now as I'm walking through a property, I'll just say it's the owners' or primary suite," Berry added to the Star Tribune.

Racial reckoning continues

The paper said that numerous real estate agents and agencies in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area have been phasing out the word "master" in recent years due to its connections to slavery.

But in the wake of George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police last year, the effort to change the industry's vocabulary picked up steam, the Star Tribune reported.

"It's something that has come up more and more the past few months," Berry told the paper. "There's been an increased awareness and wokeness since George Floyd's murder. We're seeing racial justice work being put into play."

Indeed, TheBlaze noted last year that the Houston Association of Realtors said it no longer would use the word "master" to describe bedrooms and bathrooms on real estate listings and that the term "primary" would be used in its place.

The Star Tribune said that in July 2020 the Real Estate Standards Organization noted that while industry professionals said "master" was not a discriminatory violation under U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development standards, replacing it with "primary" was recommended.

"It makes sense for the industry to coalesce around a new term to clearly define what it represents and ensure ongoing productive communication between professionals and their communities," the RESO said in a statement, the paper said.

Minnesota industry groups haven't offered guidelines on recommended terminology, the Star Tribune said, adding that it's up to real estate agencies and individual realtors.

Chris Galler, CEO of the Minnesota Association of Realtors, noted to the paper that the association's more than 21,000 members must abide by the National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, and gender identity — as well as federal housing guidelines under the Fair Housing Act.

Gender-inclusive real estate terms gaining popularity, too

The Star Tribune noted other real estate terms specific to gender inclusivity that are gaining popularity in the industry as others are getting put out to pasture:

  • Out: Man cave/she shed; In: Den/accessory dwelling unit
  • Out: Mother-in-law suite; In: Guesthouse/In-law suite
  • Out: His-and-hers closets/sinks; In: Dual closets/dual or double sinks
  • Out: Jack-and-Jill bathroom; In: Dual-entry bathroom
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