Can't Say "Mother/Daughter" Anymore? Is "Master Suite" Next to Go?

Real Estate Sales Representative with William Raveis Real Estate

When I announced in the office sales meeting at William Raveis that The Home Guru Team was just about to list a great “mother/daughter” house, my office manager Doris Ellias gently advised me that “now it’s suggested that we refer to them as ‘extended family’ houses.”

Oh, no, I exclaimed mentally, now we have yet another widely accepted housing term that is considered either politically incorrect or unacceptable to the Fair Housing Act’s advertising guidelines. I looked for any reference to support Doris’ notation and couldn’t find anything, but I’m sure she’s right. After all, my friend Steve Welles lives in that kind of set-up with his two sons, Shane and Cody and why should his house be called a “mother/daughter” and not a “father/son?”   So, I guess “extended family” can cover a broader swath of new family situations, including all the in-laws, and all the other possibilities we now have with equality in marriage.

But, consider yourself lucky when you set out to sell your home that you’ve hired a professional realtor who’s trained to navigate all the language land mines out there that protect citizens from discrimination in housing. We realtors have one heck of a time making sure that we are in compliance when we create copy for a listing, write a brochure or place ads. We might as well have a lawyer by our sides to make sure we are not in violation of those guidelines. Acceptable terms and phrases may seem arbitrary until they offend someone and spark a complaint to a government agency.

Section 804(c) of the Fair Housing Act prohibits language that would foster discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin and, now, in some states, sexual orientation. Some limitations are allowed, such as “no smoking” and “no pets” but others are not, such as “no children” and may not state a preference for adults, couples or singles but rather can describe the properties, as suggested by the National Association of Realtors.  We all know the obvious phrases that would denote a particular preference or those code words that imply limitations such as “exclusive” or “private.” Also we must be careful not to mention particular school systems or houses of worship that could imply a preference in a buyer or tenant.

To read the rest of this column, click here.

Bill Primavera is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc., the longest running public relations agency in Westchester (, specializing in lifestyles, real estate and development. His real estate site is: and his blog is: To engage the services of The Home Guru and his team to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.    


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Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA

I suspect someone has a long-memory that needs correction....Google ACTHENBERG memo...long story short...OREGON NEWSPAPER ASSOCIATION was extorted by Oregon fair housing associations to paying up to $5000 UNNECESSARILY for classified ad wording in the early 90s....HUD in SF found out and the memo was circulated and in the meantime, ONA put out a list of words (per extorting fair housing agencies) to be avoided and mother-daughter was on it along with single family home, etc.  These "lists" have made it into newspapers across the country IN ERROR and still appear on various fair housing agency web sites....use common sense....EVERYBODY has a mother!


Aug 10, 2014 05:49 AM #1
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Interesting. I never would have thought about this. I suppose you could have mother/son combo, too.

Aug 10, 2014 06:04 AM #2
Eileen Burns
Trans State Commercial RE Ft. Lauderdale/Miami/Palm Beach - Fort Lauderdale, FL
FL Probate Agent, Hotel & Land Specialist

Amazing that we have to constantly shift to political correctness that makes its way to regulators Bill.  I attended an event recently where city government employees we were discussing senior market specifically over 55 living condos.  We were told not to say Adult Living,  yet we sell ALFs...go figure. 

Aug 10, 2014 06:16 AM #3
Fred Griffin Tallahassee Real Estate
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

It is time for Americans to rise up against the PC'ers.   Enough is enough!

Aug 10, 2014 07:10 AM #4
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

That is an interesting twist.  How can one know every single nuance.  Extended family, what if they are not family?

Aug 10, 2014 11:55 AM #5
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