The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) looks to have found a way forward for the portfolio of affordable-housing assets it took over from failed lender Signature Bank.
In its announcement that it has begun the process to sell the $33 billion of commercial real estate loans from Signature, FDIC said it will create joint ventures with potential buyers of the approximately $15 billion in loans for multifamily residences that are rent- stabilized or rent-controlled.
The regulator said the move is part of its obligation to ensure that it helps preserve affordable housing “for low- and moderate-income individuals.” The majority of these loans are for properties in New York City.
FDIC said that it will retain “a majority equity interest” in the venture while the winning bidders will be tasked with the “management, servicing and ultimate disposition of the loans.”
“Operating agreement will provide certain requirements that facilitate the financial and physical preservation of these loans and underlying collateral,” it said.
A spokesperson at FDIC told Newsweek that the “joint venture transactions enable the FDIC to retain a majority interest while transferring day-to-day management responsibilities to private sector professionals who also have a financial interest in the assets and an obligation to share in the costs and risks associated with ownership.”
The decision by FDIC to want to preserve affordable housing for low-income residents comes at a time when rent in New York City has skyrocketed. Median rent in September in New York is a little over $3,700, which is 77 percent higher than the national median, according to real estate site Zillow, and has gone up by more than $200 from the same time last year.
There were fears by some New Yorkers that the assets could be sold to new owners that were more interested in squeezing profits out of the properties rather than maintaining their rent-controlled or rent-stabilized status, as reported by The City earlier this year.
In March, the New York Department of Financial Services shut Signature Bank down after its collapse in one of the largest bank failures in U.S. history and appointed FDIC as the receiver of the failed lender’s assets. Flagstar Bank, a subsidiary of New York Community Bank, took over the deposits and some assets of the former Signature Bank in a deal struck in March by the regulator.
The shift could help FDIC find buyers who might have been reluctant due to rent stabilization or rent control, according to The Real Deal, a real estate-focused news outlet.
But some analysts say the properties remain attractive, despite the high interest rates.
“Even in this environment, there are buyers of rent-stabilized buildings and lenders who make loans on them, because if the underlying properties are valued at cap rates near today’s interest rates, they would be very safe investments to own as a loan or as real estate in the case the loans are not performing,” Matt Pestronk, president and co-founder of Post Brothers, a real estate developer based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, told Reuters.
FDIC said the marketing for Signature Bank’s portfolio will occur over the next three months and the deals are expected to conclude by year’s end. The New York City-headquartered Newmark & Company Real Estate is advising on the sale.