Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Flat Quarter for North Jersey Lenders

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Flat Quarter for North Jersey Lenders

Article excerpt

Multifamily lending was a bright spot in an otherwise lackluster first quarter for northern New Jersey's regional and community banks, according to an analysis of federal data by The Record.

Loans backed by residential properties with five or more units increased by 3 percent to $6.77 billion between Dec. 31 and the end of March, more than any other loan category, according an analysis of financial reports submitted by 14 local banks to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

"It's common knowledge that more people are renting," said bank consultant Nicholas J. Ketcha Jr., executive managing director of FinPro Inc. in Liberty Corner. The multifamily construction under way in the New York region is "mostly apartments, not condos," he said.

The analysis of bank-loan balances also reflects how local business activity, including the home sales market, remains subdued.

Combined outstanding balances on one- to four-family residential mortgage loans fell 2.8 percent to $37.75 billion, while commercial real estate loans were unchanged at $11.33 billion.

To drum up business, some local bankers have been spending more time in New York City to refinance loans for owners of recently renovated apartment buildings.

"Most of the business has been in Brooklyn," said Kevin Lynch, chairman and chief executive officer of Oritani Bank in Washington Township. "It's a very hot market."

"I can't remember the last big apartment loan we did in Bergen County," he said. "We've also gone into Connecticut and Philadelphia. We generally will go as far as we can drive and get back in one day.''

Short Hills-based Investors Bancorp, which also does much of its commercial lending in New York City, increased its multifamily loan portfolio by 3.3 percent to $3.09 billion.

For the group of local banks, loans on home equity lines of credit fell 2.3 percent during the three-month period to $1. …

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