Freddie Mac had a record-setting year in 2008. Despite being seized by the federal government and put under the oversight of a conservator, Freddie Mac invested a record $24 billion in its multifamily whole loan and bond guarantee business. That’s up from $22 billion in 2007.

However, Freddie Mac’s total volume of multifamily investment has been almost cut in half as the agency abandoned its business of buying bonds and tax credits.

In 2008, the agency bought just $1.4 billion in commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) as that business faded and zero low-income housing tax credits, making for a total multifamily investment of just $25.4 billion.

In comparison, in 2007, Freddie bought $450 million in tax credits and $22 billion in CMBS, bringing Freddie’s total multifamily investments for 2007 to $44.7 billion.

Freddie Mac’s new focus is likely to continue as a mandate from the federal government to shrink its portfolio starting in 2010 approaches.

Freddie is growing increasingly focused on investing in loans that can then be securitized as mortgage-backed securities. The government-sponsored enterprise created $415 million in loans through its new Capital Markets Execution program in 2008 with hundreds of millions of dollars more in the pipeline for early 2009. By April, Freddie plans to issue mortgage-backed securities based on more than $1 billion in multifamily loans originated through the program.