The average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to 7.7 percent this week, the lowest level in two months and the fourth straight weekly decline.

The average was down from 7.76 percent last week, according to a weekly survey released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the mortgage company.

Mortgage rates have been climbing for much of this year. The average rates on a 30-year mortgage hit a low for the year of 6.74 percent at the end of January and a high of 8.15 percent in mid-August.

Fifteen-year mortgages, a popular option for refinancing, averaged 7.35 percent this week, also down from the average of 7.40 percent last week.

On one-year adjustable-rate mortgages, lenders were asking an average initial rate of 6.12 percent this week, down from 6.19 percent the previous week.

Separately, the Mortgage Bankers Association of America said mortgage loan applications for the week ending Sept. 24 decreased 2.8 percent from the previous week and were down 56.6 percent from the same week last year.

AWARDS . . . The national Community Associations Institute in Alexandria named the Belvedere Condominium Units Owners Association in Arlington the 1999 National Community Association of the Year, in the 500- to 999-home category. The Chatham Condominium Unit Owners Association in Arlington was the runner-up in the 150- to 499-home category.

PERSONNEL . . . William F. Bittner Jr. has been reappointed Maryland real estate commissioner . . . Key Commercial Mortgage named Robert Deaner and Jameson Cahill vice presidents in Key's new Washington office . . . Jorie Koch joined W.C. & A.N. Miller Cos. in Washington as new-homes sales manager.

UPCOMING EVENTS . . . The Prince William Association of Realtors in Manassas will hold two three-hour appraiser classes--law on Oct. 6, 9 a.m. to noon, and FHA appraisal on Oct. 19, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.--at 9213 Center St., Manassas. For more information, call Denise Nebb, 703-368-8177.

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