Mortgage rates around the country fell for the second consecutive week, with the 30-year fixed-rate average falling to 6.11 percent, Freddie Mac said Thursday in its weekly survey.

This rate was the lowest since the week ending Oct. 11 when rates on the 30-year mortgage dropped to 5.98 percent, the lowest level since Freddie Mac began tracking them in 1971. That marked the sixth time this year that 30-year rates hit a new low. The 30-year rate averaged 6.13 percent last week.

Analysts predicted that rates would go lower after the decision Wednesday by the Federal Reserve to cut a key interest rate by half a percentage point. "Anticipation of a [quarter-point] rate cut pushed mortgage rates downward in this week's survey, and we expect to see further downward drifts over the coming week or so as the market moves on the actual larger rate cut," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac's chief economist.

Low mortgage rates this year have been fueling a refinancing boom. The extra monthly cash consumers are saving by refinancing mortgages at lower interest rates is helping to support consumer spending. Home sales are expected to hit a new high this year.

Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, a popular option or refinancing, also dropped this week, to 5.48 percent, down from last week's 5.51 percent. For one-year adjustable-rate mortgages, rates dipped to 4.15 percent, compared with 4.25 percent last week.

This week's mortgage rates do not include add-on fees known as points. The loans carried an average fee of 0.6 point for the 30-year and 15-year mortgages and 0.7 point for the one-year ARMs.

A year ago, 30-year loans averaged 6.45 percent, 15-year loans were at 5.94 percent and one-year ARMs were at 4.25 percent.

AWARDS . . . The Urban Land Institute's national "2002 Awards for Excellence" winners included Federal Realty Investment Trust's Bethesda Row in Bethesda. The real estate development project was cited in the small-scale, mixed-use category.

CALL FOR ENTRIES . . . The Washington Building Congress's 47th annual Craftsmanship Awards banquet is scheduled for March 21, with the deadline for nominations on Nov. 15. Entries are to be judged on Jan. 15. Nominations are accepted from craftsmen employed at sites, plants or shops who perform work in architectural, structural, mechanical, electrical or other general trades. Shop-drawing draftsmen and foremen who use tools are also eligible. Special group nominees may include up to six equally responsible craftsmen. Trade work must have been completed from Sept. 1, 2001, to Aug. 31, 2002. Fee: $225 per entry. For information, call 202-293-5922; Web site:

EVENTS . . . The American Library Association and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage plan a two-hour program, "The Path to Homeownership Begins @ Your Library," about overcoming barriers to homeownership, especially for low- and moderate-income or minority buyers. Two sessions are scheduled: 11 a.m. Nov. 16, Juanita E. Thornton Library (Shepherd Park), 7420 Georgia Ave. NW; 2 p.m. Dec. 14, Northeast Library, 330 Seventh St. NE. The program is free, but registration is required. For information, call 202-727-1151. . . . A Historic Preservation Symposium sponsored by the Historic Annapolis Foundation is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday at the St. John's College Hodson boathouse. Discussion topics include the preservation efforts of Annapolis compared with those in Europe, especially in Bruges, Belgium. Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, along with other preservation and area officials, are to meet with a Belgian delegation from East Flanders and Brussels. Fee: $15, or $10 for students; reservations required. For registration and information, call 410-267-7619, ext. 8146, or 410-267-7619, ext. 2.

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