The average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages hit its highest level in nearly two years.

The average rose to 7.41 percent, the highest level since September 1997, Freddie Mac said Thursday. Last week the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 7.23 percent.

So far this year, rates have ranged from 6.74 percent at the end of January to 7.41 percent.

Fifteen-year mortgages, a popular option for refinancing, averaged 7.04 percent this week, up from the average of 6.84 percent last week.

On one-year adjustable-rate mortgages, lenders were asking an average initial rate of 5.85 percent, up from 5.73 percent the previous week.

PERSONNEL . . . Tony DeVol joined RGS Title as a partner in the firm's new Bethesda office . . . Don Fitzgerald has volunteered to be chairman of the Grant Development Committee for the Howard County Real Estate Masters Club . . . William G. Miller joined Transwestern-Carey Winston in the District as vice president in retail services.

UPCOMING EVENTS . . . The D.C. Home Resource Center will hold the following free seminars at the D.C. Home Resource Center Auditorium, 815 Florida Ave. NW: A walk-in question-and-answer session on the home-buying process at 10 a.m. each Wednesday; a home buyer's workshop from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday; and a mini home-buying fair where participants can meet with real estate agents, lenders and housing counselors from 10 a.m. to noon next Saturday. For information on these events, call 202-777-4663 . . . The Washington Metropolitan Chapter of Community Associations Institute will hold its annual membership picnic at Carderock Park in Potomac from 1 p.m. to dusk Thursday. Cost: $15 per person, children under 12 free. For information, call 703-750-3644, or send e-mail to info@caidc.org for details and registration.

Send realty announcements to Brian Krebs, Real Estate Notes, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.