Sean Conlon was born and raised in the small town of Rathangan in County Kildare, Ireland. His family of seven lived in a modest home of under 1,000 square feet. His parents struggled and, at one point during his childhood, a bank tried to repossess the house.
The experience taught Conlon to value the security of owning a home and perhaps set into motion his future career in real estate.
In 1990, he tells CNBC, he took the $500 he had saved and headed for the U.S. He landed in Chicago, where he took a role as an assistant janitor.