Three days before being gunned down in a senseless murder-suicide, Realtor Soren Arn-Oelschlegel posted a final Facebook message congratulating the out-of-town client for whom he’d recently helped purchase a quaint, 750-square-foot home on bucolic Bolling Road in Portsmouth, Virginia.
“Congratulations to my out-of-town buyer,” Arn-Oelschlegel wrote, referring to the homebuyer, Albert Baglione, an 84-year-old Alabama transplant who purchased the home sight unseen on Oct. 4 before fatally shooting the Long & Foster agent in a pique of fury Friday evening before ending his own life as police swarmed the property. “I’m so happy I was able to find him a home that fit his needs.”
Since the unthinkable Oct. 8 shooting, the communities of Suffolk and Portsmouth in Virginia have struggled to piece together a clear picture of what happened between Arn-Oelschlegel and Baglione, who neighbors and family members described as growing increasingly distraught over the decision to buy the home several days earlier for a mere $160,000.
“He seemed a little off,” Shane, a longtime Portsmouth resident and Baglione’s neighbor, told The Virginian Pilot on Wednesday, identifying himself only by his first name. “He just seemed out of it.”
“He told his son he was unhappy and that he was going to talk to his agent about it,” Shane added of Baglione, who The Daily Beast described as the owner of a hair replacement business.
As the investigation continues, Arn-Oelschlegel’s family, friends and colleagues are now focusing on honoring his memory and sharing his love of real estate.
“Our Long & Foster family is devastated by the tragic loss of our beloved colleague and friend, Soren Arn-Oelschlegel,” Long & Foster Smithfield shared in a public statement. “Soren exemplified our values of trust, family and excellence in all aspects of his life, and his loss will be felt across our industry and community.”
Family friend and Lightship Realty agent Ruth Fordon said Arn-Oelschlegel, 41, “was a natural,” as he grew up in a family of real estate professionals who sold homes, and built and inspected properties.
“He used to come here (to the real estate office) after school and do his homework here,” Fordon told The Virginian Pilot. “He was a natural. He had the right personality for the job and people trusted him.”
“[He] always went the extra mile” she added. “He was very professional and well respected by his colleagues.”
Several real estate associations honored Arn-Oelschlegel with social media posts and urged agents to remember how dangerous their job can be. “As the Realtor community unites in mourning and support at this difficult time, we are reminded that safety is first and foremost; please visit https://www.nar.realtor/safety,” Hampton Roads Realtor Association said on Saturday. “HRRA expresses its sincere condolences to Soren’s family, friends and colleagues.”
Hampton Roads Pride, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group Arn-Oelschlegel was a member of, also shared multiple statements recalling what the slain Realtor meant to them not only as a leader but as a person.
“We are heartbroken to announce to our Hampton Roads Pride family that yesterday, Friday, October 8, 2021, Soren Arn-Oelschlegel, our brother, friend, member and volunteer was fatally shot,” Hampton Roads Pride posted on Facebook. “Our love and support goes out to Soren’s family and friends as we struggle to wrap our heads around this devastating loss. Soren’s kind and generous spirit left us too soon.”
Long and Foster posted on Arn-Oelschlegel’s page on Thursday with details about a live stream memorial service on Saturday and a candlelight vigil planned for Thursday night.
“This outdoor gathering will be held at The Wave Club, 4107 Colley Avenue, Norfolk, Virginia,” the post read. “All are welcome to attend in unity and support during this loss Soren’s family and our community are facing.”
The post also asked community members to donate to Hampton Roads Pride, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and The Trevor Project with the recipient email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
“There is something truly special about building on someone’s legacy,” the post continued. “The family of Soren Arn-Oelschegel would like to extend the opportunity to support those causes that Soren held dear by sharing the following ways in which you can be part of his life’s legacy of kindness, respect, and hope for a better, more inclusive future.”
Arn-Oelschlegel’s tragic death not only touched agents in Suffolk, but agents across the country who were reminded about the importance of agent safety. “Realtor colleagues and friends. Be careful out there even with your own clients,” a post read in the Facebook group Real Estate Mastermind. “Yet, another real estate industry tragedy.”
“Soren Arn-Oelschlegel, a local Virginia Realtor [was] shot and killed by his own client,” it continued. “Personally, I try not to take for granted how stressful a real estate transaction can be for clients. We also never know what mental state our clients are really in since we are not doctors.”
In a previous Inman article, safety expert Tracey Hawkins said men need to be on alert just as much as their female colleagues, and begin attending safety trainings, adopting a buddy system, purchasing a panic button to quickly alert authorities of their location, and taking self-defense courses.
“I go to a screen where I have seven names of real estate agents who have been killed or hurt in the line of duty and, from 2017 to 2019, they were almost all men,” Hawkins said. “But when I look around the room, I see almost exclusively women. The guys who got up and left when they heard the topic are the ones who most need to be there.”
“I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the male agent say ‘Hey ladies if you are uncomfortable on showings, I will accompany you,’” she added. “And what I’m trying to say is that [men] need to be careful too.”