SAN DIEGO (AP) _ Thomas J. Wageman, the former president of Dallas-based Sunbelt Savings, has been named president and chief executive officer of HomeFed Bank and its parent company, the thrift announced Tuesday.

Wageman, 57, replaces Robert F. Adelizzi, who resigned shortly after HomeFed reported a first-quarter net loss of $174 million. The company blamed the results on real estate losses in California and in the East.

''Tom Wageman is one of the most respected bankers in the country today,'' said Kim Fletcher, HomeFed's chairman. ''He brings a strong understanding of real estate and mortgage markets and he has earned the confidence of regulators. We welcome his insights and initiatives for HomeFed.''

Wageman, one of seven candidates interviewed for the president's job, said HomeFed has a process in place to quickly identify troubled assets and is candid about efforts to deal with them.

''It's institutions that acknowledge reality and move swiftly to deal with the situation that are in the best position to benefit from a real estate recovery,'' he said. ''I expect HomeFed to be in that position.''

Wageman began his career at the First National Bank of Chicago in 1963 and joined LaSalle National Bank in 1974 as executive vice president in charge of loan assets. In August 1983 he became president and CEO of the First National Bank of Midland, Texas.

He was brought in to manage Sunbelt Savings in 1986 and helped to reduce problem loans and expenses at the ailing thrift. Two years later, regulators combined Sunbelt with seven other Texas banks into a newly chartered federal mutual savings bank under Wageman's direction.