Richard M. Curtis, P.A.
“I tell my agents to ‘take care of your people and make them happy. If you focus on always doing the right thing, your business will grow as a result.’ ”
Richard Curtis, owner of Curtis Real Estate, works in a beautiful building across from the main Naval Academy Gate, and about a block from City Dock. A big bay window opens right out onto Randall Street and the daily ebb and flow of Annapolis. His office is not formal; rather, his clients sit across from him on a comfortable couch, the only physical barrier between them a crescent-shaped coffee table. This is no accident.
“Every job I have ever had in my life that I have enjoyed is one where I was not stuck in a cubicle and where I was making people happy,” Curtis reflects. Indeed, he is energized by people, by watching the world go by and by being part of it. This makes sense—he was born with airplanes in his backyard at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.
And, he has traveled the world. At the age of five, his father was posted in Berlin, Germany. As a kid, he rode his bike past the Berlin Wall, sneaking into old World War II bunkers. When he was twelve, he returned to the states, finishing high school and taking college classes. During college, family members invited him to live and work in Saudi Arabia and Israel; he accepted the opportunity.
When he returned from his adventures abroad, Curtis secured employment in the heart of Washington, D.C., at The Four Seasons Hotel and The Jefferson Hotel, a block or two from The White House. There, with his international background, he was at home, beginning his career as a bartender, then eventually moving up and earning a position as The Restaurant Banquet Manager at The Jefferson. He enjoyed serving presidents, politicians, diplomats, and movie stars, including the likes of Bill Clinton, George Bush Senior, Barbara Streisand, Tom Selleck, and Aretha Franklin. Later, as Food and Beverage Manager at The Inn at Perry Cabin, he catered to VIP’s exploring properties on the Eastern Shore. It was this experience that piqued his interest in real estate.
Curtis segued from the hospitality industry to real estate—a job where he could help people in different ways. He brought to his new career all he had learned thus far—that customer service is an art, how to truly take care of clients, and a valuable lesson: how to empower the people who work for you.
He found that people work harder and feel more motivated when they have some personal authority. He reflected that at The Four Seasons, “you wore your uniform, helped people, found out what they like and need, but if what they wanted did not fit any of those boxes, you had to get permission to go above and beyond.”
But things were done differently at The Jefferson. “If a person staying there had a problem and the maid could fix the problem on the spot, they did so. They didn’t have to ask anyone, they were empowered to do what was right for the customer.”
He noticed that this approach boosted staff morale. “It gave the people who worked there more excitement and energy that you would not have otherwise. No one had their hands tied. The hotel business, like real estate, is about a pleasant experience—without it, you don’t have repeat customers or good word of mouth. It is one way to differentiate yourself amongst the competition.”
When Curtis set up his own real estate shop in 2008, he favored a progressive approach to doing business. “When I started my own thing, I made sure I didn’t do the things I found mundane, that other corporate firms have to do.” What he did not like about large corporate firms is that agents often are not free to make their own decisions when it comes to representing their clients’ best interests. They must check off certain boxes and wait for approvals. This means that often, the client may not be getting the best possible outcome.
However, his agents “are empowered to make their own decisions to take care of their clients.” He gives an example: “If an agent wants to take a percent off a commission to make a transaction work…they can, they don’t have to ask me.” I tell my agents “take care of your people make them happy. If you focus on doing the right things for your clients, your business will grow as a result.”
Additionally, The Curtis Real Estate Company supports the community not only representing home owners and sellers, but by supporting non-profits such as the Bowen Foundation for Autism; The Yellow Ribbon Fund, which helps wounded soldiers transition home; and Warrior Events. His firm is also very active with Historic Annapolis. Curtis often talks about how he is “community, not corporate.” As head of his own company, he can make things happen and empower his agents to put the needs of people and the community first.
His life and business philosophies of “caring,” “helping” and “service” intertwine. He brings an ability to sense what a person or community needs—; whether it’s a new home, or financial or moral support. His life experiences have prepared him to structure a company that can take action, has the ingenuity to figure out a plan, and the dexterity to deliver.
8 Randall Street, Annapolis, MD 21401 | 410.268.8696
Annapolis Home Magazine
Vol. 9, No. 2 2018