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New York Community Bancorp Inc. Looks to Shed Problem Commercial Real Estate

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New York Community Bancorp Inc. is actively seeking to rid itself of troubled commercial real estate assets following a surprising $185 million loss in relation to two loans, as revealed in its recent fourth-quarter earnings results.

Offering Details

According to information regarding the offering, investors have been presented with an opportunity to bid on a $22.4 million mortgage that is backed by three five-story walk-up apartment buildings located in Washington Heights, a neighborhood in northern Manhattan.

The mortgage primarily covers rent-regulated apartments and associated mixed-use spaces. As of now, the mortgage has reached maturity, with the entire debt amount becoming due, along with interest at a 20% default rate.

Property Value Decline

Bloomberg News reports that other landlords in the same neighborhood, who are also subject to New York City’s rent-regulation laws (which were strengthened in 2019), have witnessed property values plummet by an estimated 50%.

Efforts to Address Real Estate Exposure

Despite receiving multiple requests for comment on this matter, New York Community Bancorp NYCB, +1.18% did not respond.

The bank’s efforts to address its exposure to problematic real estate loans coincide with a significant decline in its stock value, which has decreased by over 60% since the beginning of the year.

Deutsche Bank researchers highlight that the lender has high exposure to rent-regulated multifamily properties in New York City, along with an approximately $1.8 billion office-building exposure and $250 million to $300 million in upcoming maturities within the next few years.

Concerns for Regional Banks

The challenges faced by New York Community Bancorp have once again sparked concerns regarding regional banks and their commercial real estate exposure. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen expressed her worry about U.S. commercial real estate during a congressional hearing on Tuesday, acknowledging that some institutions could face significant strain. However, she also reassured that the situation appears manageable.

Landlords Face Challenges Amidst Slumping Property Prices and Higher Borrowing Costs

As the Federal Reserve began to raise interest rates in 2022 to combat high inflation, landlords have had to contend with the consequences. Property prices have been plummeting, and borrowing costs have risen, leaving many landlords in a difficult position.

To mitigate their exposure to problem commercial real estate, numerous regional banks have quietly been shedding these assets. This trend has escalated since the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank in March of last year, as well as JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s acquisition of First Republic Bank, which rattled the markets.

Moody’s Investors Service recently downgraded New York Community Bancorp’s credit rating by two notches to speculative-grade or “junk” status. In response to the downgrade, Thomas Cangemi, the bank’s president and CEO, emphasized that they took decisive actions during the fourth quarter to strengthen their balance sheet and risk management processes.

Cangemi reassured stakeholders that the bank possesses sufficient liquidity and has been steadily increasing its deposits. He further stated that the downgrade is not expected to significantly impact the bank’s contractual arrangements.

In an effort to proactively address potential issues within the industry, some banks are opting to sell off assets at discounted prices. While this strategy may offer temporary relief, experts predict that commercial real estate lenders will face multiple challenges in the coming years. With a wave of old debt coming due amidst higher interest rates, the road ahead seems daunting for players in this sector.

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