There is a saying that if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. Robert Morris III epitomizes that statement as he averages about 70 hours a week—every week—selling real estate and renting properties in the DC and Virginia and enjoying every minute of it.
Morris, 59, has sold houses, condominiums, land, and rental properties in all eight wards from Le Droit Park in Ward 1 through Fort Totten in Ward 4 to Bellevue in Ward 8. He also serves as a trainer for Keller Williams Capital Properties in the District, Maryland, and Virginia.
He knows DC’s landscape well, but chooses to live in Congress Heights in Ward 8.
Flourishing in S.E.
“Affordability is the answer to why I moved to Southeast and specifically Congress Heights. Where else was I going to take my family of six in 2000? It was not a choice for me back then,” said Morris who was then working at the Pentagon as a senior staff officer and policy analyst, which included titles like Deputy Director and Special Assistant, for the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Manpower, and Reserve Affairs before transitioning into entrepreneurship and acquiring his real estate license in 2004.
Before moving his family there, Morris, a second-generation Washingtonian, lived on Bolling Air Force Base. In 2010 Bolling AFB merged with Naval Support Facility Anacostia to form Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling.
“I didn’t think I had any other avenue other than Southeast with my $48,000 military salary,” said the honorably discharged veteran after providing 20 years of commissioned officer service in the United States Marine Corps.
It was a good choice. Congress Heights, located beyond Anacostia, has improved in value and desirability with the arrival of the 5,000-seat Entertainment and Sports Arena in 2018 that has emerged as a hub for live concerts and sporting events on the grounds of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital East Campus. The Congress Heights community borders on the hospital, built in 1855 as a psychiatric center for military personnel and residents, and has in recent times consolidated its property although it still operates as a medical and evaluation site.
The Morris family loves the mix of urban and suburban feel as well as the multiple parks within walking distance.
Despite cherishing their four-bedroom, three-and-half-bath contemporary townhome, Morris remembers when his wife Rhoda was worried and openly questioning their move to the southeast neighborhood because of issues with crime.
“We heard gunshots out of the window late at night and I would have to reassure Rhoda [knowing about the caliber of guns and ammunition] that the firearm was light and fired from too far a distance to affect us. I am a Marine. I’m used to conflict and kind of drawn to it,” Morris stated matter of factly.
From Boy to Marine
An only child, Morris was raised by his mom Sylvia Hollie (his mother and father divorced when he was two) and a grandmother, and his great-grandmother.
Before enlisting in the military, Morris was a lackluster student and unhappy during his four years at the prestigious Georgetown Preparatory School in Rockville. “I was the only brother in the class when I graduated in 1981. I was doing just enough not to flunk out and the only thing I enjoyed was playing football.”
“The thing that changed my life was when I was graduating from high school, my uncle told me about BOOST. Things got serious for me. It was at that point when I got into ROTC,” Morris said.
BOOST is the acronym for Broadened Opportunity for Officer Selection and Training in military classification. Initially, BOOST was a nine-month program that offered active-duty enlisted personnel a chance to receive extensive academic preparation.
After enlisting in the United States Marines, which officially falls under the Department of the Navy, Morris began his basic training with 1,400 other men and women. By the time the training ended, Morris was one of only three hundred. The Marines have four groups: the operating forces that do the actual fighting, the headquarters for leadership, the supporting establishment that provides logistical support, and the Marine Corps Reserve.
“The highlight for me as a Marine was being able to attend Hampton [then Institute, now University] where I met my wife, and later was assigned to Southern University in Louisiana as the Marine Officer instructor. Morris has a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Physics/Engineering Electronics from Hampton and a Master’s in Public Administration in Public Policy/Urban Development from Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College at Baton Rouge.
The WAR Team is Born
Morris, who encourages youth to explore the benefits of the military, would not change any part of his life—the good or bad, the struggles or the blessings.
“I could always see God’s influence on everything that occurred in my life. As far as the Marines were concerned, I was the block of wood, they were my sandpaper. I had a lot of ‘poop’ piled on me. Now [because of that manure], I’m the biggest mushroom. I wouldn’t be [successful] if it weren’t for God. I’m just thankful that I’m on God’s team.”
God is the most important consonant in Morris’s life followed closely by his family which consists of his wife and four children—Raquel, 27, Robert IV, 25, Richard, 23, and Raina, 21. His next biggest blessing would be the creation of the WAR Team.
The WAR Team started with Morris “because I’m super aggressive,” and fellow real estate agent Russell Carter, in 2017. Together the partnership and the DMV WAR Team www.dmvwarteam.com consistently rank among the best of the Washington area real estate professionals and the top performers at Keller Williams Capital Properties.
Morris’s passion, personality, and productivity resonate with homebuyers and investors.
“When I moved to DC in 2009, he helped me find a condo downtown in the Mt. Vernon Triangle area,” said Dr. Kevin Johnson, a radiologist who has since bought other properties with Morris’s assistance. “He is very personable and never shrinks away from difficult situations.”
To date, Morris, and the WAR Team, have closed 872 deals with more than $275 million in total sales. They have provided 370,000 in closing subsidies that include representing 194 affordable dwelling units. Morris has executed 240 standard leases for U.S. AID, U.S. military, and U.S. State Department personnel that totals $5.7 million in rents received.
However, Morris does not want those numbers to be his legacy. Instead, “I would hope it would say that [here lies] an outstanding husband, good father, son, friend, and servant.