An article published by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) in the USA claimed that real estate ads are “getting a big dose of political correctness”.
According to the article, various US industry bodies have labelled the following terms inappropriate: Master bedroom, family home, newlyweds, country club nearby, handyman’s dream, safe neighbourhood, secure, walking distance to and bachelor pad – the last of which was the subject of a federal discrimination lawsuit.
While Australians are generally reluctant to change for political correctness’ sake, top sales agent at Jellis Craig Hawthorn Peter Batrouney said it’s a risk you can’t afford to make.
“Clearly you can’t be offensive in what you say, but what you deem safe, others may find offensive. In our industry, we can’t afford to be seen as racist or sexist," he said.
“I always correct people when they say ‘master bedroom’ - it’s the main bedroom in today’s language.”
Proving his own point that different phrases mean different things to different people, Mr Batrouney claimed ‘master bedroom’ was sexist. However, the NAR article claimed it was inappropriate due to racial undertones.
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However, some of the black-listed terms went a bit far even for Mr Batrouney.
“For years, we’ve been told we can’t say a ‘short walk’ to the tram, we need to be specific. But to say it is discriminatory against handicapped people is a bit far. Where do we get off today? You can’t put your toe in the water without getting bitten,” he said.
CEO of the REINSW Tim McKibbin told Real Estate Business that language is always evolving and that agents need to stay in line with community expectations.
“Those terms are used to describe rooms and other attributes attached to the property, but we are an evolving society," he said.
“For example, the nursery rhymes that I grew up with 50 years ago have undergone some amendment to bring them into line with community expectations.
“Personally, I don’t find it offensive to say ‘this is a property for newlyweds’. I don’t find it offensive to say that ‘this property would be attractive to affluent individuals’ or describe it as an ideal ‘bachelor pad’. We see property marketed toward renovators, investors or first home buyers all the time, so why are these other sectors of the community off-limits?”