HOUSING STARTS HERE will decline 15.7 percent next year, dropping the Washington area to eighth place among the nation's new-housing markets, according to a forecast by Chicago Title Insurance Co. Nationally, the firm foresees a drop of 11.1 percent in starts to 1.6 million next year.

Chicago Title expects 32,500 units will be built here this year -- a forecast very similar to one by Advance Mortgage Corp. in September -- which it says would make this year's output about the same as 1983's. However, it foresees construction of only 27,400 units next year.

The company expects softening in virtually every major market -- only Raleigh/Durham, N.C., (up 9.1 percent) and Orlando, Fla., (up 1.5 percent) are listed as showing increases. Chicago Title predicts a 13.5 percent decline in Dallas/Fort Worth, though at 71,600 units it would remain the nation's busiest market. Phoenix, in second place, will drop 27.6 percent, and Atlanta, in third, will dip 23.5 percent, according to the forecast.

Chicago Title sees mortgage interest rates ranging between 13 1/2 and 15 percent during 1985. It notes that rates have been declining, but expects an upturn soon. If this prediction proves correct, "The interest-rate cycle will be out of step with the housing industry, in that rates will be highest during the prime building months," Chicago Title says.

MARYLAND WAS AMONG 16 states that, even with higher interest rates, showed higher sales of existing homes during this year's third quarter than in the same period a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors. Sales of existing homes -- houses, condominiums and co-ops -- ran at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 65,300 in Maryland in July, August and September, compared with 62,300 in 1983, the NAR said.

Virginia, on the other hand, followed the majority of states in showing reduced sales for the quarter. The NAR indicated that sales in the state were down 19.3 percent to an annual rate of 82,700.

Nationally, the third-quarter rate for resales dropped 2.7 percent from 1983 to an annual rate of 1.94 million units. Resales in this year's second quarter ran at a 3.28 million rate.

PERSONNEL FILE . . . Herbert S. Miller has assumed the newly created positions of chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Western Development Corp., and Richard S. Kramer, executive vice president, will become vice chairman of the board and chairman of the executive committee. The firm has named Thomas J. Regan Jr., former executive director of the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corp. who since May has headed the firm's urban division, as its president. In addition, Stacy Hornstein has been named vice president of operations . . . David Guskin has been named executive vice president and chief operating officer of Artery Capital Group, as well as senior vice president and member of the executive board of Artery Organization Inc. Atery also has announced that George Ludwig Jr. has been promoted to senior vice president/operations manager for Artery's out-of-town oprations; Stuart Feldman has joined the company as director of management information systems; George McGrady has become manager of the plant that manufactures panelized components for Artery products; Gene Smith has been promoted to vice president/division manager in commercial; T. J. Pecorak has been promoted to assistant vice president/division manager of a new residential division in Northern Virginia; Gideon Frishman has been named assistant vice president/division manager in Virginia residential, and Jeffrey Goldshine has joined the firm as director of property management . . . William F. Bittner Jr. of RE/Max Columbia is the new president of the Howard County Board of Realtors. Serving with him will be Georgiana Simmel, president-elect; James A. Skirven, vice president; and William F. Snider, secretary-treasurer . . . The National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts has elected as its 1984-85 president W. Pearce Coues, head of Boston-based Mortgage Growth Investors . . . Jackson-Cross Co. has appointed William E. Danielson vice president of finance for the Washington office, and Richard W. Hagen has joined the firm as vice president of property management . . . Shannon & Luchs' commercial leasing division has named Michael Cassedy vice president and regional manager of its Maryland office . . . Begg Inc. Realtors has appointed Ilse Keel assistant vice president and sales manager of its Chevy Chase office . . . Weissberg Corp. has named Ruth V. Powers property management administrator and Charles C. Jinks Jr. vice president of construction development.