FirstClose appoints Craig Austin as Executive Vice President
By Edlyn Cardoza
FirstClose, Inc., a FinTech provider of digital HELOC solutions for banks, credit unions, and lenders nationwide, announces the appointment of Craig Austin as Executive Vice President to lead new and existing customer initiatives. This move comes on the heels of two recent hires of Account Executives to bring FirstClose’s digital HELOC solutions to market. FirstClose is better prepared to continue scaling its sales organisation under Austin after its growth equity investment from Lateral Investment Management in May.
“As the leader in digital HELOC solutions and given the perfect storm of the market environment for financial institutions to dramatically increase their home equity volumes, FirstClose’s sales organisation is at the front lines of helping lenders optimise home equity lending or even enter home equity lending. FirstClose continues to attract top talent from the industry as we bring to market a digital HELOC solution 22 years in the making. FirstClose’s continued success requires adding additional knowledge and expertise to our leadership team to provide strategic-level thinking while delivering superior customer experiences,” said Tim Smith, FirstClose’s Chief Revenue Officer. “Austin’s pedigree of success throughout the real estate technology industry will be invaluable as FirstClose scales its sales and account management organisations to meet the growing demand for digital HELOC solutions and to continue being a value-adding service provider to our customer base.”
This is the beginning of the Golden Age of home equity lending in the U.S. Tappable home equity, the amount available for homeowners to access while retaining at least 20% equity in their homes, rose again for the 10th consecutive time, according to Black Knight. Tappable home equity stands around $11.5 trillion as of 8/2/22. The Fed raised interest rates by 0.75% twice a row, and many expect a further interest rate hike in September. The rising rates have led to a steep fall in demand for refinancing mortgages, falling 82% from the prior year, according to the MBA Refinance Index.
The demand for a simple and easy way to get instant feedback on a home value, available home equity, and instant loan decision while applying for a HELOC or home equity loan has become a business imperative for financial institutions across the U.S. Many financial institutions are increasing emphasis on existing home equity lending units, devoting more resources to build out fledgling home equity resources, and even entering home equity lending for the first time. FirstClose’s digital HELOC solution provides demonstrable value for each instance.
“I am thrilled to take on this role at such an exciting time for FirstClose and our industry. The FirstClose Digital HELOC Solution is a game-changer for our customers and those lenders looking to transform their home equity lending. The FirstClose solution introduces automation, quality, and speed in a way that I have not seen before. They put their customers at the center of everything they do and are true experts in delivering real estate solutions with a proven 23-year track record,” said Austin.
Craig is an experienced executive with a demonstrated history of working in financial services in the information technology and services fields. He is skilled in Banking and Mortgage, Business Development, Account Management, and Sales Team Building. Craig is a Point Loma Nazarene University graduate with a Communication major.
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