Investors Bank’s Joseph Orefice on Growth, Recent Financings

Investors Bank said recently that it had closed six real estate transactions in the first quarter of 2012—deals whose combined value hit nearly $100 million. Joseph Orefice, senior vice president and head of Commercial Real Estate Lending at the bank, told The Mortgage Observer that some of the deals were for repeat customers with a solid track record, a theme that has echoed throughout the lending community even as the market improves.

oreficejoseph Investors Bank’s Joseph Orefice on Growth, Recent Financings

Joseph Orefice.

Mr. Orefice added that the bank is “very active heading toward New York—not only in lending, but in our branch network.”

In Newark, N.J., Investors Bank provided a $20 million fixed-rate mortgage to refinance the loan on Hallmark House—a 429-unit apartment complex located at 10 Hill Street that’s owned by Wilshire Investments Corp. In 2011, Investors had provided a $27 million mortgage to refinance Wilshire’s the Colonnade, a 22-story, 560-unit multifamily property at 25 Clifton Avenue.

Mr. Orefice said that the bank was excited to put the loan together, and added that “it is right within what we consider our wheelhouse.”

In Manhattan, Investors originated a $25 million fixed rate mortgage for an undisclosed 240,089-square-foot Columbus Avenue retail space. This deal, a participation, represents an area that the bank will likely explore further in the future.

“The $25 million deal we did on Columbus Avenue was a participation with another lender and that’s an area that we’re probably going to expand,” he said.  “It’s just an area of the bank where we’re kind of growing into more of a commercial bank.” This loan was done in conjunction with New York Community Bank.

Among this pool of announced loans was one construction loan as well—$10.5 million provided for the construction of a townhome community in Lakewood, N.J. Mr. Orefice pointed out that the type of construction financing the bank is providing these days, though, is different than what was seen pre-crash.

“I don’t think its any secret that for us and for other banks construction was a rough patch over the last couple of years,” he said. “Today it’s very different—we’re not really doing for sale, per se. Even though one of these is a town home community it’s really more of a pre-sold construction versus just the spec construction. It’s structurally very different, and I think a lot safer for us.”

The other loans rounding out the $100 million in financing from Investors were refinances—a $10.9 million, adjustable rate mortgage for a Bethlehem, Penn. office building, a $14 million adjustable rate mortgage for a Brooklyn multifamily property and a $19.5 million fixed rate loan for a 260,714-square-foot office building in Rockaway, N.J.

With all of this recent New York-focused activity and a renewed push into the region, Investors is likely to grow its staff in the area in the near future. “We’re very actively growing our balance sheet,” Mr. Orefice said. “Our balance sheet has grown $5 billion over the last three, four years and we expect that to continue. We’ve got a lot of equity and obviously with that comes the ability to deploy that capital and lending is one of those arenas. So I expect our staff to grow not only in New York but New Jersey as well.”

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