The thing about writers is that we tend to be cranky. The shift from looking inside — to digging down to find all those wonderful thoughts and metaphors — to dealing with the outside — that ever-ringing phone — is just too harsh, and it happens too often.

So it’s always surprising when a writer has a reputation for being nice and good-humored, and it’s even more surprising when that writer is approximately three times as productive as any of his competition.

Bob Bruss, who died earlier this week at the age of 67, was such an angel. What’s more, he had a way of explaining even the most difficult real estate questions in a way that was plain and simple. He was a lawyer and a broker, and yet he offered that double expertise with no condescension.

Of course, I’m mad that I never got to meet him. When I went to the National Association of Real Estate Editors meeting in the spring, he was already too ill to make the trip.

But he had been kind to me — a young agent and writer — by e-mail. He was at the very top of the profession, and didn’t need to give a kid competitor the time of day, but he took the trouble to be helpful and encouraging.

His columns on real estate ran for 23 years in some of the largest papers in the country as well as on Inman News. When you ended up in a corner of his Web site, and heard him saying “thanks for stopping by,” it sounded as though he really meant it.

So if you’re an agent, it’s obviously hard for you because you can’t refer clients to him for the answer to a particularly thorny question.

One of his most recent columns, for example, explained how clients could use a lease-option to get the property of their dreams while buying themselves time to raise their credit scores. Smart, thoughtful advice, and it will be missed.

But it also raises the question: “Who have you taken the time to help today?”

We are so busy striving to reach the top of the mountain that we often don’t pause to give a hand up to the person behind us.

And in Bob Bruss’ memory, we really ought to.

Is there a junior agent in your firm that would appreciate an MLS tip or two? Someone who could benefit from a critique of their listing presentation, or someone who would appreciate another set of eyes the next time they go to an open house?

You might want to set aside the time to spend an hour — just one hour — with them in the next week.

Because as much as you want to be the guy ahead of you, they want to be you.

So be a good guru. Be warm and friendly and share some of that hard-earned expertise. A little “that sounds great” or even “sure, I’ll take a look at it” can go a long way.

And it’s the best way to honor the memory of someone who has been called “the Dear Abby” of real estate.

Goodnight, Bob, and thanks for the helping hand.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Bruss’ memory may be sent to: Edina Educational Fund, 5701 Normandale Road, Edina, MN 55424.

Alison Rogers is a licensed salesperson and author of “Diary of a Real Estate Rookie.”

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