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New York-based Signature Bank became the second major financial institution shuttered by regulators on Sunday.
Like Silicon Valley Bank two days earlier, Signature was yet another major real estate lender to be shuttered over concerns about risks on its balance sheet.
Signature was the largest commercial real estate lender in New York City by transaction volume and the third-largest by volume since January 2020, according to PincusCo which tracks real estate transactions.
“Throughout the weekend [I’ve] been speaking to multifamily owners about the potential devastating impact on NYC’s small property owners,” Jay Martin, head of the Community Housing Improvement Program in New York, wrote on Twitter Sunday. “Their ability to make immediate repairs, meet payroll, pay utilities, who will be servicing their mortgages, is all currently on hold. I hope government officials are ready to work with owners and renters during what might be a difficult time.”
Martin later applauded the quick action by New York and the federal government.
Signature lent over $13.3 billion for commercial real estate in New York since January 2020, according to PincusCo. The company had $110 billion in assets and $88.6 billion in total deposits as of Dec. 31, according to the FDIC.
As in the case of Silicon Valley Bank on Friday, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) created a bridge bank to take control of deposits and accounts at the shuttered bank. Borrowers and depositors automatically became customers of the bridge banks, the FDIC said.
The commonality between the two failed banks appears to be investments in technology and the market volatility that started early last year.
Almost a quarter of all deposits at Signature Bank were digital assets, or cryptocurrency, which has been particularly volatile of late. The bank had been moving in recent months away from its reliance on digital asset deposits, according to its 2022 annual report.
Silicon Valley Bank was a well-known lender to technology startups, making it a darling in the Bay Area and tech hubs outside of California.
In recent years, SVB began focusing on investment opportunities in proptech. The company invested in companies seeking to disrupt the real estate industry, such as Opendoor and Airbnb. In 2019, Silicon Valley Bank called proptech a “$228 trillion opportunity.” It also handled day-to-day transactions for companies throughout the real estate space.
An executive at the company last year specifically mentioned Opendoor, Roofstock, Homebound, Nomad, Airbnb and Tomo as proptech companies that were part of its “core area of focus of our investment strategy.”
With $209 billion in total assets at the end of 2022 and about $175.4 billion in total deposits, SVB’s failure was the second-largest in U.S. history, according to Reuters, trailing only the collapse of Washington Mutual in 2008.
The stock price for regional banks across the country fell sharply on Monday despite the quick intervention and guarantees provided by the federal government.
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