Remembering Bob Bruss

Perspective: In these changed times, his insight still applies

Editor’s note: Longtime Inman News columnist Robert "Bob" J. Bruss died one year ago today. Jessica Swesey, former Inman News vice president of content and managing editor, remembers Bob in this guest article.

A year ago today, we heard the heartbreaking news that our dear friend, real estate advocate and prolific author Bob Bruss had passed. It is a memorable day because he was such a memorable guy.

My first thoughts are of his happy face, his smile and his thirst for doing the right thing in real estate, all while making a healthy profit. Bob was one of the special few who were able to do this, as evidenced by his colossal following of readers from coast to coast.

I also can’t help but think about how much the market has changed since Bob left us. And the news of major Wall Street firms dropping like flies, congressional leaders telling us we are on the brink of an economic disaster. What would Bob think of all this?

For those of us who religiously read Bob’s columns each week, we remember him as "by the book," a "30-year, fixed-rate mortgage kind of guy," as Brad Inman once said. He was proof that doing things the old-fashioned way — saving money, knowing what you’re getting into and committing to it — are legitimate ways to not only reach a point of pride in ownership, but also to create a real income on investment properties.

While many would look at today’s real estate climate as constrained or credit-squeezed, I think Bob would see the positive vein running underneath it all. Lending conditions may be tough, but the fundamentals of homeownership are merely returning to what they once were before loose lending standards became the norm.

The banks are a mess and need to sort things out. But as long as there are stories of new homeowners getting in on good terms, the market will survive. A return to these values may actually be what saved it all from collapsing around us.

For these reasons, I’ll continue my own homeownership pursuits. And even though Bob is gone, his ideals hopefully live on. There’s nothing quite like being a homeowner and seeing the fruits of your labor stand as a symbol of your livelihood, the place where families meet and part.

I’ll be getting in with substantial money down, a 30-year fixed mortgage loan, and a solid credit rating. Because that’s what I learned from Bob. Rest in peace, old friend.

Jessica Swesey is the former managing editor and vice president of content for Inman News. She is currently working on a Web development project that aims to help young adults get a firm grasp on their personal finances.

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