Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages edged down slightly this week after hitting their highest level since September 1996 the week before.

The average interest rate on 30-year mortgages fell to 8.25 percent for the week ending Jan. 28, down from 8.26 percent last week, according to a weekly survey released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the mortgage company.

Last week's 8.26 percent rate was the highest since Sept. 13, 1996, when rates on the 30-year mortgage hit 8.28 percent.

Fifteen-year mortgages, a popular option for refinancing, also inched down this week, with an average rate of 7.84 percent this week compared with the average rate of 7.86 percent last week.

But on one-year adjustable-rate mortgages, lenders were asking an average initial rate of 6.65 percent this week, up from 6.56 percent the previous week.

Separately, the Mortgage Bankers Association of America said that mortgage loan applications for the week ending Jan. 21 decreased 5.8 percent from the previous week and were down 37.9 percent compared with the same week last year.

IN THE NEWS . . . Coldwell Banker Stevens Realtors acquired Century 21 South Lakes Realtors, which has offices in Reston and Sterling. Coldwell now has 31 offices in the area.

PERSONNEL . . . The Fannie Mae Foundation named Andrew Plepler senior vice president of housing and community initiatives and Glen Howard senior vice president and general counsel . . . David R. Gehr, a former commissioner of the Virginia Department of Transportation, has been named vice president at Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas Inc., the U.S. infrastructure arm of Parsons Brinckerhoff, an international engineering, planning and construction management organization. Working from Herndon, he will be director of strategic planning, responsible for directing the company's strategic planning activities worldwide . . . Susan Thomas of Cushman & Wakefield has begun her term as president of the Greater Washington Commercial Association of Realtors on Jan. 1; Scott Johnson of Spaulding & Slye/Colliers is president-elect. The regional trade association serves commercial real estate interests in the District, suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia.

AWARDS . . . The Washington Metropolitan Chapter of Community Associations Institute announced the winners of the 10th Annual Community Association of the Year Award, recognizing community associations in the Washington metropolitan area excelling in all facets of their operations. The winner of the very large category, of more than 1,000 units, is Park Fairfax in Fairfax; large category, 500 to 999 units, is Singleton's Grove in Centreville; medium category, 150 to 499 units, is the Atrium in Arlington; and small category, 149 or fewer, is Woodwinds in Reston.

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