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Why NYC apartments could become a big problem for NYCB

Investors have punished the stock of commercial real estate lender New York Community Bancorp (NYCB) so far this month. To know why, it helps to understand the changing economics of a New York City staple: the rent-stabilized apartment building.

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The regional bank’s biggest loan exposure is to apartments. Roughly half of that portfolio is tied to scores of multifamily complexes in the Big Apple where annual rent increases are regulated by the government.

And this is what has investors worried. These properties could end up being worth a lot less than they used to be because of high interest rates and new limits on rent increases, leading Wall Street to question whether this $116 billion lender will be able to withstand the losses that are expected over time.

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The Hicksville, N.Y.-based bank is trying to convince investors that it has the situation under control.

NYCB’s new executive chairman Alessandro DiNello told analysts Wednesday that the company would work to reduce its commercial real estate exposure. The bank also has $3 billion of loans tied to office properties, another potential area of future weakness as work patterns shift in big cities.

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