Mackenzie Hilsinger

Coldwell Banker Realty

Mackenzie Hilsinger of Coldwell Banker Realty has emerged as a Rising Star in South Central PA real estate, bringing a unique blend of authenticity and dedication to the table. Born and raised in the area, Mackenzie's journey into real estate was not just a career shift but a testament to his commitment to creating a life anchored in his roots. In this month’s Rising Star interview, Mackenzie shares insights into his background, motivations, and the keys to his success.

Where are you from, and how did you get into real estate?
I was born and raised in Central Pennsylvania, one of six kids, and my last name, Hilsinger, always came with recognition as someone's brother or sister. After living and going to school in North Carolina for eight years, my wife Ariel, a medical professional with UPMC, and I decided to move back to Central PA to establish roots and start a family. I worked in Campus recreation at York College, Messiah University, and then Penn State Harrisburg before taking the leap into real estate about two and a half years ago.

What brought you back to Central PA?
It takes a village. Both our families are here, and the familiarity of the area, the hometown feel, and the connections we had made growing up drew us back. I wanted my kids to experience the generational roots that were available here. Central PA, to me, feels like a place where you can easily connect with people on a deeper level, and that's something I wanted for my family.

My dad was a Bishop McDevitt grad, and to this day, wherever he goes, he’ll meet someone he knows. Maybe it’s some older gentleman at a breakfast spot, and my dad talks to him for 30 minutes about playing football back in his day. My mom was raised a street away from where I was raised, and she went to Trinity High School. So this area has been so much for my family. Central PA reminds me a lot of North Carolina. I’ll see a buddy I haven’t seen since high school, and I can go up and just give him a big hug and be like, “Hey man, how's life?” It’s fantastic. The reconnecting is effortless! 

How old are your children?
(Laughs) Some may say I'm a bit of a nutjob here. I have a three-and-a-half-year-old, twins who are almost two, and our fourth is just a month old.

What motivated you to pursue a career in real estate?
The motivation came from wanting to provide more for my wife. She works long hours as a medical professional, leaves before our kids wake and sometimes gets home in time for their bedtime. I have tremendous respect for her, but I wanted to allow her to see our kids more. In my previous jobs, I felt undervalued and wanted a change, a way to earn my worth. Real estate offered an opportunity to put value into something people need, and I wanted a career where I could make enough to support my family and allow my wife more time off. But at the start, it was a leap of faith; this is a commission-based job -- no settlements, no salary. I pushed to assert myself as a trustworthy Realtor and achieved a lot of success by posting on social media and continuously educating myself.  

You've had a lot of success in a short period. What do you attribute that to?
Joining the Terry Barr group when I started was crucial. I’m a big believer in the value of learning from others. I never shied away from asking any successful agent questions to learn the ropes and hear their experiences. I tip my cap to agents like Terry Barr, Jennifer Debernardis, Justin Prince, and Jim Bedorf, our office management staff (Tricia Como, Danielle Moore), and many others at the Coldwell Banker Camp Hill office who have answered countless questions. I also believe authenticity has been a key. Being able to speak authentically to clients and make it about them, not just the paycheck, has allowed me to succeed. Two and a half years into real estate, I attribute a lot of my success to God, authenticity, and the genuine connections I've built.

What is your authentic self, and what do you like to do in your free time?
My authentic self is rooted in family and community. I spend time with my kids and the neighborhood group. I'm a huge sports guy, a Philly fan. (Laughs) My wife will roll her eyes  I could tell you the 2010 starting lineup for the  Sixers or the score of an Eagles game last year. And I love catching up with high school friends whenever I can. Outside of real estate, I prioritize relationships and quality time. I’m a big believer in being yourself within this industry. If you catch me outside the office, I wouldn’t act any different than I would in the office.

Talk about authenticity in your communication style.
Authenticity, for me, means being honest about the market and using technology to connect with clients. I share my successes on social media, not just for self-promotion but to showcase the genuine relationships I've built. Being honest about my availability and limitations with clients has also been a key part of my communication style.

Where do you think real estate is headed in the next few years?
Technology is crucial. If you're not utilizing social media and community groups, you're falling behind. Networking through platforms like Facebook has been a game-changer for me. The lack of inventory is a challenge, but building your reputation and being authentic in your approach can still win over clients.

What question did we not ask you?
I'm a trans-radial amputee and a cancer survivor. I underwent an amputation due to a rare cancer in my right hand. It was a tough decision, but meeting Aron Lee Ralston from the movie 127 Hours, who went through a similar experience, provided perspective.

I'm driven by faith, as I mentioned. At the time of the amputation, I wasn't as strong as I am now. Reflecting on that experience and the choices it allowed me to make, I've come to realize that everyone encounters bumps in their life's journey. Each person has their own challenges, but if you embrace change, others will take notice. I appreciate those who recognize and engage in conversations about what I've been through. I use a prosthetic, wearing it at times and opting not to at others—it's just a part of my life. Authenticity, both physically and emotionally, is crucial. If we're not true to ourselves, we're doing a disservice to our clients.