The average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to 7.84 percent this week, the lowest level since early October.

The average was down from 7.96 percent last week, according to a weekly survey released Thursday by the mortgage company Freddie Mac. The average for the week ending Nov. 5 was the lowest since the week ending Oct. 8, when the 30-year rate was at 7.82 percent.

Mortgages rates have been climbing this year. The average rates on a 30-year mortgage have hit a low of 6.74 percent set 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 7.45 percent this week, also down from the average of 7.57 percent last week.

On one-year adjustable-rate mortgages, lenders were asking an average initial rate of 6.34 percent this week, down slightly from 6.35 percent the previous week.

PERSONNEL . . . William J. Armstrong III of Long & Foster has been elected president of the Maryland Association of Realtors . . . Joseph M. Camarda and Jonathan W. Hipp joined Grubb & Ellis, a commercial real estate firm, as senior vice presidents forming a retail services group that will offer services to developers, investors and tenants.

SEMINARS . . . The District of Columbia Building Industry Association Commercial Construction Group will sponsor a luncheon round table on "The Construction Industry and the Internet in the New Millennium" at noon Wednesday at Patton Boggs LLP, 2550 M St. NW. The cost is $35 for non-members. For more information, call 202-966-8665 . . . Long & Foster will hold the following free real estate career seminars open to the public: Wednesday, Nov. 15, at 6:30 p.m., 2121 Wisconsin Ave. NW, contact Darrell Parsons at 202-944-8400; Thursday, Nov. 16, at 6 p.m., 3201 New Mexico Ave. NW, contact Marj Rosner at 202-363-1800; and Monday, Nov. 29, at 6:30 p.m., 20 Chevy Chase Circle NW, contact Holly Worthington at 202-363-9700.

AWARDS . . . The Maryland-National Capital Building Industry Association presented the 1999 Builder of the Year Awards, which recognize overall excellence, to Stanley Martin Cos. of Reston in the large-volume-builder category and Craftmark Group/Elm Street Development of McLean in the high-volume-builder category . . . The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development gave the Commitment to Excellence Awards to Hamel Commercial Inc., for community work in Takoma Park and Baltimore; Light Street Housing Corp. for Baltimore projects; Southern Maryland Tri-County Community Action Agency for initiatives in Calvert, Charles and St. Mary's counties; Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse for work in Cumberland, Md., and Baltimore; and Victory Housing Inc., for housing projects in Hyattsville and Potomac . . . The Maryland Association of Realtors named Gloria Farrar, of Re/Max 100 in Camp Springs, 1999 Realtor of the Year for Prince George's County.

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