Wells Fargo Home Mortgage is "very aggressively" looking to back multifamily properties, an executive with the Des Moines-based lender said Wednesday at the Pacific Coast Builders Conference in San Francisco.

"We can do just about any kind of deal, but it has to make sense," said Eric Smith, a Wells Fargo & Co. senior vice president in San Francisco.

Smith said lending on income-producing properties has been a "core product" for his company for a dozen years, and the acquisition of Wachovia Corp. has made Wells' commitment to multifamily "even stronger."

Wells has a particular appetite for student housing, which Smith called "a pretty good opportunity," because of "a built-in demand" for apartments on and near many campuses.

Freddie Mac also is looking for deals, but Steve Griffin, managing director of multifamily in the government-sponsored enterprise's Los Angeles office, said good properties are "hard to find."

The apartment sector may no longer be "in a free fall," Griffin said, but "it is not stable just yet."

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