The average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages climbed to 7.96 percent this week, up from 7.86 percent last week, according to a weekly survey released Wednesday by Freddie Mac. Other mortgage rates rose sharply as well.

The average rate of a 30-year mortgage generally has been climbing this year, from a low of 6.74 percent in January to a high of 8.15 percent in August.

Fifteen-year mortgages, a popular option for refinancing, averaged 7.57 percent this week, up from 7.47 percent last week.

On one-year adjustable-rate mortgages, lenders were asking an average initial rate of 6.64 percent this week, up from 6.49 percent the previous week.

Meanwhile, the Mortgage Bankers Association of America said that mortgage loan applications for the week that ended Dec. 17 fell 4.1 percent from the previous week and were down 41.8 percent compared with the same week last year.

PERSONNEL . . . PB Constructors Inc. in Herndon, the design/build services arm of Parsons Brinckerhoff, named Tanya Matthews senior vice president of design/build development.

AWARDS . . . Chapel Valley Landscape Co. of Woodbine, Md., received four Grand Awards from the regional Landscape Contractors Association for its work on three private residences and the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington . . . The Metropolitan Washington Chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry presented Contractor of the Year awards in 14 categories. Among those winning Grand Awards were Glass Construction Inc. in the entire house category, CASE Design/Remodeling Inc. in the residential exterior category and Construction & Development Inc. in the residential interior category.

UPCOMING EVENTS . . . The Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors will sponsor "At Home With Diversity," a continuing education course at its Baltimore area office, 1306 Bellona Ave., Lutherville, Md., from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 6. The preregistration cost is $75 for members and $150 for non-members; additional $5 at the door. Call 410-337-7200 for more information . . . The deadline for applying for the Maryland Historical Trust's Maryland Preservation Awards, honoring significant accomplishments or activities in historic preservation, is Jan. 7. For information and nomination forms, contact Nicole Diehlmann at 410-514-7625 or via e-mail at or go to the Web site under "What's New" . . . The Washington Metropolitan Chapter of the Community Associations Institute, an association that represents cooperative, community, condominium and homeowners associations, will hold its JumpStart January Event, covering its year 2000 goals and projects, from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Jan. 13 at the Fairview Park Marriott, 3111 Fairview Park Dr., Falls Church. The cost is $20 before Jan. 3 and $25 after. Breakfast is included. For information contact Crystal Danielson at 703-750-3644 or go to the Web site

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