Robert J. Bruss, an author, investment expert and syndicated real estate columnist whose advice appeared in newspapers across the country for more than two decades, died Wednesday at his Burlingame, Calif., home, according to Inman News, the Emeryville, Calif., news service that distributes his column. He was 67.
Bruss, began writing his column 23 years ago. He was sometimes called the “Dear Abby of Real Estate” for his straightforward, knowledgeable writing on questions that often perplex consumers. He wrote about such matters as how to prepare a house for sale, how to choose a realtor or home inspector.
In addition to his column, he published two monthly newsletters and wrote several books, including “The Smart Investor’s Guide to Real Estate” (1983) and “The California Foreclosure Book” (1991).
On the personal side, his syndicated article would be in the Sunday newspaper in one city I lived. I would read every article as it appeared and kept a notebook of his articles I clipped for future reference. The information was timely, interesting, and of excellent quality. In most cases, his articles were the only reason I would buy or subscribe to a local newspaper.
Frequent job transfers made local interest news irrelevant to me, and his sage advice helped me purchase and resell the property or rent the house when it came time to move to another location. In most normal markets, it would take about 5 years for property values to reach the point where I would not to take a loss on the sale. I rarely had the luxury of 5 years in any given city, so had to plan carefully.
I considered renting for one move. I was single, with a teenaged son, and two dogs. Most houses in the area required first and last months rent, security deposit, and non- refundable cleaning fees because of pets. Following the advice in Bruss articles, I looked at undervalued foreclosures.
The down payment was lower on the property I bought than the accumulated fees for a similar rental. I had 20% equity at closing, a nice home for my son, a fenced yard for my dogs, and was within two miles of my job. Thank you Robert J. Bruss. I will miss your knowledgeable information, as will many others.