Five minutes with Sean Naughton
Sean, how long are you in the auctioneering business and how did you start out?
35 years this year. Previously I worked in the hospitality business, spending five years in London, and five in Dublin prior to starting the auctioneering business. I moved back to my native Rahara on getting married (to Peggy) and built a family home there. I always had a keen interest in property and had dabbled a bit prior to returning/buying and selling them on, naturally always with some profit. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to start my own auctioneering business.
How much and in what ways has the business changed over the years?
A chance meeting in Athlone one evening…I was introduced to Mr. Seamus Quinn who was the CEO of The Midland & Western Building Society whose head office at the time was in Longford. We had a very interesting chat and he was looking to expand the business and through the conversation I was offered a franchise – and the rest is history! I worked in conjunction with them and later they were sold on to EBS. I was also lucky enough to secure an agency for Eagle Star, now Zurich. Paul that’s how it all started.
Initially it was very personalised and you had to build up the confidence with all your clients on a personal level. I was lucky to be involved in politics and the GAA and was fairly well-known throughout Roscommon and that was a great help to me. Like all businesses now it is highly regulated and there’s quite an amount of red tape involved.
Bearing in mind the Government’s 2040 Plan, not to mention Brexit, what’s your view of the future for County Roscommon? Are you optimistic or pessimistic?
I am very optimistic regarding the future of Roscommon and surrounds as it’s a lovely town to live in, myself and Peggy having moved here fourteen years ago. The community spirit is excellent and we have great facilities within walking distance. We could do with an injection of jobs presently but we are lucky to be so convenient to Athlone which is earmarked for huge investment in the Government Plan. I would have to say the Government got a lot right in the past few years.
Are there any particular initiatives/incentives/changes which you’d like Government to make that would further energise the property market?
I would like to see changes to the Finance Bill as the jump from 2% to 6% for commercial transactions is having a negative effect on sales. I was very lucky to have sold quite a few farms and completed the transactions in the past few months.
Are banks lending again to house-hunters?
Very much so Paul. I haven’t seen as many loan approvals for clients since the boom. Banks are now proactive, with competition between them. I have had AIB, PTSB and Bank of Ireland call with cards to the office in the last month. There’s a large number of loan-approved buyers. The problem currently is sourcing suitable residences.
Sean, you’ve a great passion for GAA…how do you feel the Roscommon team is shaping up for this season under Kevin McStay?
Yes it’s one of my great passions in life and I feel very confident this Roscommon team are going to give us loads of joy for the foreseeable future. There is no doubt they are a very talented team and under the guidance and motivation of Kevin McStay and his team I feel we will have a very successful season.
Sean, you’ve met a lot of characters through your work over the years. Are there any funny incidents that stand out in your memory from auctions or sales or just through meeting people?
I once had a gentleman from Australia who wanted to purchase property in the Four Roads area as his ancestors came from the area. He was infatuated with the history and especially the Black and Tans as he had been told one of his ancestors shot a Black and Tan. He went on four consecutive days to Strokestown House to locate the gun as he felt it should be there! The staff were very helpful and did everything to facilitate him but finally on the fourth day they showed him a gun and stated that was the one so he came back over the moon! I thought to myself she was a very smart lady.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Interacting with people and meeting them years after I did business with them. I end up thinking it’s only been a few years since we interacted, but most of the time it’s actually been 25 to 30 years! It is also lovely to see the younger generation calling in to see me and sometimes having a deal.
Any exciting events coming up with Sean Naughton Auctioneers…what’s the outlook for your business in 2018?
The start of the year has been very positive with a number of sales closed and more to close over the coming months. We are most likely to have a land auction in the autumn. My hopes for 2018 are that Roscommon repeat the success of last year and win the Connacht final and reach the SUPER 8!
A pleasure talking to you Sean and congrats to you and Peggy on 35 years in the business – and here’s to many more!
Interview: Paul Healy