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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Hileman Realty celebrates 20 years in business

(Jan. 26, 2017) Debbie Hileman admitted she thought about a career change before opening her own real estate business 20 years ago on Cathell Road in Berlin.
“I can’t believe it has been 20 years already,” she said. “I found a niche in the rental market and built a reputation on helping people. I started out in rentals and the sales came hand-in-hand. People trust me to take care of their property.”
Hileman Realty opened its doors on Jan. 20, 1997 with two rooms and a welcome desk, before expanding to a number of other areas in the building. By 2003, Hileman purchased the property in Berlin.
“My philosophy is to take care of someone else’s home the way I’d want them to take care of mine,” Hileman said. “That mindset flows through to my sales agents. We all have the same commitment to service. This is our community and we love it. It’s a great place to raise a family.”
Currently, there are 24 sales agents at Hileman Realty and they sold $55 million in properties last year. Six rental agents manage about 500 rentals in Ocean Pines, Ocean City, and elsewhere in Worcester and Wicomico counties.
During the snow storm a couple weeks ago, agents stopped by a number of properties to make sure the heat was on in homes and to secure deck furniture.
“Taking care of property for people who don’t live here, referrals and word of mouth [has kept the business going 20 years],” Hileman said.
The top two sales agents, Bethany Drew and Terri Bradford, call themselves the “Power of Two Team” and are celebrating 10 years of partnership.
Sonia Zaffiris was the first sales agent Hileman hired and has worked for the real estate business for 20 years.
“I love what I do and I love the people I work with,” Hileman said. “Most people have stayed years and years. I feel like we are a family.”
Hileman’s sister runs the rental department, and her 83-year-old mother was “instrumental from day one.”
“She still works here every day, and it does feel like an extended family,” Hileman said. “You become friends with people and it becomes a relationship. Tenets become buyers and at some point look to you in helping them sell their home. The stories and friends I have made would have never happened had I not opened my own business 20 years ago.”
Hileman said there are many laws and requirements to observe when renting, buying or selling a home – that’s where a qualified real estate agent comes in.
“In my opinion, you need a professional to guide you through the process,” Hileman said. “People think they are saving money by not using a professional and it ends up costing them money.”
Real estate laws, management fees, regulations, lead paint laws, security deposits and property disclosure forms are a few of the logistics Hileman and her team take care of for customers.
“There is no way a layperson can know everything they need to know,” Hileman said. “We work together and give suggestions on how to get the property rented or sold at the best price in the quickest time. Agents are required to continue their education every two years, which is a minimum licensing requirement.”
Hileman, broker and owner of Hileman Real Estate, Inc., opened her business in 1997 after 13 years of sales and rental management experience in Ocean Pines. In the summer of 2011, a second location on 82nd Street in Ocean City began operating. There has also been a Hileman agent in Salisbury for the last three years.
“I am an independent contractor and owner,” she said. “We are unique. Big companies have come and gone, but we stayed firm on holding onto independence and being flexible. I like to think we are a boutique real estate market in Worcester County. People are comfortable with us. The past referral and repeat business they receive is wonderful, and we try really hard.”
Hileman Realty is open seven days a week. Hours are Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The business will be closed this Sunday, Jan. 29. Agents can be reached any time of day.
For more information, visit or call 410-208-9200 in Berlin. The 82nd Street office can be reached at 410-723-9450.