Congressional arm-twisting may have been the reason for Fannie and Freddie's recently renewed interest in the residential multifamily market. But while the GSEs tinker with and remold their programs, investors and lenders are finding that wider yield spreads and tax incentives are making multis more attractive anyway.

"The last few quarters have hurt in multifamily because of low [interest] rates," said David Lereah, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association. "Vacancy rates have remained high because renters have been able to become home buyers, which doesn't portend well for [mutlifamily] activity. But there does seem to be some trend toward private conduits, so that does suggest there is some activity."

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