Posted on August 10, 2021

No More ‘Master’ Bedrooms: Minnesota Real Estate Listings Aim for Inclusivity

Nancy Ngo, Star Tribune, August 6, 2021

Browse through home listings today and you’ll find terms like “primary bedroom,” “dual closets” and “in-law suites” instead of “master bedroom,” “his-and-hers closets” and “mother-in-law suites.”

It’s part of a new real estate terminology that’s emerging during a time of racial reckoning and pleas for more inclusive language.

“There’s a hidden discriminatory piece that falls when you say ‘master’ bedroom,” said Jackie Berry, a listing agent for Edina Realty and an educator in a racism and real estate continuing education class for Minnesota industry professionals.

“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,’ ” she said. {snip}

In recent years, several Twin Cities area listing agents and real estate companies have been phasing out the word “master” because of its association with slavery.


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

In June 2020, the Houston Association of Realtors started to use the word “primary” in place of “master” when referring to bedrooms and bathrooms on its listing service. Since then, other groups such as the Real Estate Board of New York have committed to reviewing whether the term “master” should be removed from its residential listings, as well.


In July 2020, the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) weighed in on the issue. While a review by industry professionals determined the word “master” was not a discriminatory violation under U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development standards, replacing it with “primary” was recommended.


The new terms seem to be spreading beyond the real estate industry into construction, as well.

Chelle Eliason, executive officer of the Minnesota Metropolitan Contractors Association, said the organization is starting to see its members — contractors, developers and builders — opt for more sensitive language in home plans, blueprints and other documents.


While many in the industry have “used this inclusionary language throughout their careers,” Eliason said “the time is now for all of us to be more cognizant and sensitive in our communication. We feel this is a good thing for the community, the industry and for all.”

For Berry and others, a change in terminology is just the beginning.

“There’s more that needs to be done [in Minnesota] on education around racism and diversity,” Berry said.