The average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to 7.76 percent this week, marking a second consecutive weekly decline.

The average was down from 7.82 percent last week and from 7.88 percent two weeks ago, according to a weekly survey released Thursday by the mortgage company Freddie Mac.

Average rates on a 30-year mortgage have ranged from a low of 6.74 percent at the end of January and a high of 8.15 percent set in mid-August.

Fifteen-year mortgages, a popular option for refinancing, averaged 7.40 percent this week, down from the average of 7.43 percent last week.

On one-year adjustable-rate mortgages, lenders were asking an average initial rate of 6.19 percent this week, down from 6.22 percent the previous week.

Separately, the Mortgage Bankers Association of America said that mortgage loan applications for the week ending Sept. 17 increased 19.8 percent from the previous week, but were down 50.4 percent compared with the same week last year.

PERSONNEL . . . Stephan Porten, founder and president of Porten Companies Inc. of Rockville, has been named chairman of the board. The new president is Paul Anthony Poto . . . Sigal Construction Corp. of Washington appointed Richard Goldberg chief financial officer . . . W.C. & A.N. Miller Cos. in Washington appointed Jorie Koch homes sales manager . . . The National Multi Housing Council in Washington elected Louis W. Hoyes and Richard S. Lawch of Fannie Mae to its board of directors.

UPCOMING EVENTS . . . The Prince William Association of Realtors of Manassas will hold its annual fall conference, open to the public, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Oct. 7 at the Manassas Armory. Vendors will offer home-buying information and services for realty agents and consumers. Classes on Megan's Law, home inspections and risk management also will be held. The cost is $10 in advance or $15 at the door. For more information, call Denise Nebb at 703-368-8177. . . . George E. Covucci of Arnold & Porter will speak on commercial tax incentives at a seminar sponsored by the Greater Washington Commercial Association of Realtors, from 8:30 a.m to 12:15 p.m. Wednesday at the GWCAR Classroom, 1818 N St. NW, Suite T-50. Topics will include EZ Bond financing, zero capital gains, historic rehabilitation tax credits and charitable facade easement donations. The cost is $39 before Wednesday or $50 at the door. For more information, call 301-590-2000.

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