Along with Aunt Jemima and Confederate statues, a familiar feature in real estate advertisements is being retired.

Property agents and multiple listing services are dropping the term master bedroom because of potential negative connotations.

The Houston Association of Realtors just made the change, replacing the terms master bedroom and master bathroom with “primary” bedrooms and baths.

Many builders have already adapted, using “owner’s suite,” instead.

“The overarching message was that some members were concerned about how the terms might be perceived by some other agents and consumers,” the Houston real estate group said in a statement. “The consensus was that primary describes the rooms equally as well as master while avoiding any possible misperceptions.”

So far, the MetroTex Association of Realtors in Dallas-Fort Worth hasn’t mandated a change.

“I have heard it is being discussed at the national level,” MetroTex’s Bill Head said in an email. “I think it is on the agenda for the July MLS committee meeting.”

One of the first recorded uses of "master bedroom" in real estate ads was in a 1920s Sears Roebuck & Co. catalog when the retailer sold whole houses.
One of the first recorded uses of "master bedroom" in real estate ads was in a 1920s Sears Roebuck & Co. catalog when the retailer sold whole houses.

The term master bedroom has been around for a long time. One of its first recorded uses in real estate ads was in a 1920s Sears Roebuck & Co. catalog, when the retailer sold whole houses.

But a growing number of real estate agents think it’s time to update their terminology.

“Our job as agents and marketers is to attract energy to a property,” California real estate agent David Gunderman said. “The search for a home is largely emotional, and for someone who is engaged in that search, being distracted from that endeavor to process alienation can upset the experience.”

“If our word choices turn off any potential buyer, taking their emotional energy to a negative place, we are doing a disservice to both the buyer and the seller whom we represent,” he said in a recent post on his company’s website. “Beyond that, as a human being, the last thing I want to do is remind someone, even subconsciously, of some kind of cultural pain or oppression.”