Having lived in some of the most beautiful places in the world, Cornelia Heckenbach knows what makes a place feel like home. When she came to St. Michaels, MD, she knew she was home. Heckenbach has never shied away from adventure. She grew up in Germany, where she worked as a model and where she met her husband Udo, an architect and real estate developer. She sold real estate, and she operated a European hotel her husband had built. She actively invested in the real estate market, and nurtured a passion for training champion hunting Labradors.
After years of constant motion, Heckenbach and her husband decided they wanted to slow down, buy a farm and enjoy the quiet life. They searched high and low until they found St.Michaels. A charming community with a rich history, situated along a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, the quaint village had all Heckenbach was looking for. It was serene and quiet, and life there had a lovely, slow pace. The quiet didn’t last long for the dynamic Heckenbach, though.
‘I loved the area, but I found I was way too active to be doing nothing,’ she says. Since she already knew the local real estate market inside and out from her own property searches, she decided to share her expertise with others who were looking for the same American dream – a step back into a simpler time. She earned her real estate license in 1992 and her broker’s license a few years later, and hasn’t looked back since. In fact, Heckenbach has earned the lifelong Membership in the Company’s Founders Hall of Fame, and in 2011, was named Talbot County’s Top Selling Agent in sales volume, over all licensed agents in the county.
One of the most wonderful aspects of life in St.Michaels, founded in the 1770s, is its connection to the past. Respect for history is valuable, but can prove a stumbling block for a newcomer, Heckenbach found. Because the populace holds so tightly to tradition, it was difficult at first for her to compete with peers whose families had lived in Talbot County for generations. In spite of this, she built a sterling reputation and a loyal clientele to go with it. She attributes her success to the fact that she is able to look at the market like an outsider. While those who were born in the area may have presuppositions about particular neighborhoods, Heckenbach is able to see the real estate market through the eyes of a consumer. She looks at St. Michaels and sees a beautiful way of life, and this is what she conveys to her clients. ‘Because I didn’t grow up here, I don’t have the same biases,’ she says. ‘I think people should pick an area, not because it is prestigious, but because they love it. I try to help match people with their dream.’ While Heckenbach has support staff in her office, she is the one who stays in touch with clients. It is important to her that each of them feels valued. She’s not just selling a piece of land – she’s helping people build dreams.
‘I sell a lifestyle, and it эs the same lifestyle I have,’ she says. ‘I came here to get away from the metropolitan areas and to experience something new. I want to help other people who have that same vision.’
Her clients come from all over the United States and overseas, looking for the idyllic lifestyle Heckenbach was seeking herself. St. Michaels is absolutely ideal for that purpose. In the 1800s, the village and the surrounding areas of Talbot County were a getaway for people living in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore who were seeking relief from the heat of the summer.
‘It has always been a getaway, and I understand why people love it,’ Heckenbach says. ‘I love it here, and I love selling real estate here. When I show property around here, I am sharing what I love with my clients.’ In the village, people are friendly. Residents don’t lock their doors, and they greet one another by name. With barely over a thousand residents, the town is a rare gem – just like Heckenbach herself.
She still strives for excellence in everything she does, and Cornelia and her husband recently purchased a boutique hotel in Florida, which one of her sons now operates. She’s not seeking further adventure now, though. She enjoys life in St. Michaels and plans to stay right where she is. ‘I’m happy with where I am at this point in my life,’ she says. ‘It’s because I love what I do. I think that’s the secret.’
Cornelia C. Heckenbach
The Long & Foster Christies Great Estates
St. Michaels, MD | 410.310.1229
info@CorneliaHeckenbach.com | www.stmichaelsmdwaterfront.com