Washington Real Estate Investment Trust yesterday reported its operating profits increased by 18 percent last year and its net income jumped 262 percent as a result of selling a large apartment house.

The company earned $9.37 million ($6.16 a share) in 1979, compared to $2.58 million ($1.70) the year before. The 1979 profits included a nonrecurring gain of $6.3 million ($4.14) from the sale of the apartments at 4000 Tunlaw Road NW.

In an unusual transaction, WRIT arranged a tax-free trade of the apartment building for equity in two office buildings in suburban Maryland. The result was a 36 percent increase in stockholders equity in the company as well as the large gain in earnings, said Gerald Wade, financial vice president.

Income from operations for the year increased to $3.06 million ($2.02) from 1978's $2.58 million ($1.70).

For the final quarter of the year, WRIT showed net income of $853,000 (56 cents), up from $795,000 (52 cents) in the same period a year earlier.

The Washington realty trust also raised its divided for the the 11th consecutive year. The quarterly payout was raised from 25 cents a share to 58 cents, a total of $2.32 a year.

Government Employees Financial Corp., an affiliate of Geico Corp., reported its net income fell 39 percent last year to $2.04 million ($1.16) from $3.35 million ($1.81).

The Denver-based consumer loan company said its profits fell primarily because it had to pay higher interest rates on money it borrowed and had to increase its reserves for loan losses.

Government Employees Financial said its gross income for the year increased from $40 million to $42.5 million, but interest costs jumped more than $3 million. Because of higher credit losses, the company increased its reserve for bad loans from 3.16 percent of outstanding loans to 3.64 percent.