Community Bank is on the move in the southern part.
The DeWitt-based company formally acquired Elmira Savings Bank on May 16, further expanding its footprint in the Southern Tier just two years after acquiring Steuben Trust.
Community Bank acquired Elmira Savings Bank in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $82.8 million. Elmira Savings Bank was headquartered in Elmira and operated a dozen locations in five southern and central New York counties, including Chemung, Steuben, Broome and Tompkins.
Community Bank previously acquired Hornell-based Steuben Trust Corp. in a $98.3 million deal completed in June 2020. Community Bank President and CEO Mark Tryniski said that the company’s recent growth is “more opportunistic than necessarily strategic” as it adds to its presence in the region.
“We have this covered Southern Tier corridor on I-86 from eastern New York to western New York,” Tryniski said. “It was a good opportunity to create more density, grow the franchise, acquire good people, good customers, and in Elmira’s case, great products and services. Steuben had a great commercial lending business .”
With the addition of the Elmira Savings Bank marketplace, Community Bank holds over $16.2 billion in assets and operates more than 220 customer facilities in upstate New York, northeastern Pennsylvania, Vermont and western Massachusetts. Elmira Savings Bank reported total assets of around $648.7 million when the deal was first announced last fall.
Impact of acquisition on local jobs, branches
About 30 employees of Elmira Savings Bank will be made redundant as a result of the merger. A WARN notice listed impacts on 33 employees, but Tryniski said five of those affected had moved into new roles at the company. The layoffs were the product of the merging of systems and processes, with positions in accounting, technology, human resources and marketing among those affected.
The layoffs were centered at the Elmira Savings Bank sites on East Water Street and County Road 64 in Elmira. Those locations will remain open, but four of Elmira Savings Bank’s 12 branches have been closed as a result of consolidation in Watkins Glen, Moravia, Painted Post and Corning.
Tryniski said the acquisitions of Elmira Savings and Steuben Trust fit the general profile of Community Bank’s existing customer base in primarily non-urban markets.
“As the economy goes through ups and downs and cycles, which we’ve all seen in the past 15 years in an incredible way, the markets we operate in are more stable,” Tryniski said. “The trade-off for that is lower growth. M&A (M&A) is a way to grow without having to get that organic growth in the markets you’re in. They’re growing, all of our markets have grown , but instead of big city markets that might grow 10%, then 10% and 10% and crash 20%, we might grow 2% each time, they have lower but more stable growth.
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Mortgage outlook for the southern part
Scott Boser, senior vice president of consumer lending at Community Bank, said home listings remain “down” locally, reflecting a national trend in the housing market. Scarcity has caused prices to skyrocket. In many areas served by Community Bank, homes sold above asking price within hours of hitting the market.
“It’s still a hot market, absolutely, even though application volumes are down primarily due to lack of inventory and lack of refinancing activity,” Boser said.
Potential buyers are also pressured by rising mortgage rates. Freddie Mac this month reported a one-week rise in the 30-year rate from 5.23% to 5.78%. The Federal Reserve also recently raised its benchmark rate by 75 basis points, its most aggressive move since 1994 in an effort to curb inflation.
The confluence of factors pushed mortgage applications down more than 15% from a year ago, with refinances down more than 70%, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
The war in Ukraine and the ongoing COVID shutdowns in China continue to disrupt supply chains and drive up prices around the world. Boser said that in the past, an “insulating effect” offered a measure of protection for rural markets during housing bubbles.
“I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but the upward trend in mortgage rates is likely to continue,” Boser said. “As rates go up, I think house prices might start to come down a bit. There may be more availability even in our markets like Elmira, Ithaca, Watkins Glen or Corning. I think it’s going to be delayed until the supply returns to some sense of normalcy. Maybe the houses won’t be on the market for six or seven months, but certainly more than a few hours.
Chris Potter can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @ChrisPotter413. To get unlimited access to the latest news, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.