Spokane North Notes

A weekly bulletin of the Spokane-North Rotary Club

August 25, 2014

Editors: Chuck Rehberg and Sandy Fink

Pictures:  Eric Johnson



Club move set

          It’s official.  The club will move its Monday luncheon meetings to the Lincoln Center , with the first meeting there Oct. 6.

          President Jon Heideman said the board unanimously selected the new venue and we hope to have a “Rotary Room” in which to display banners and other Rotary items.  The designated room will host up to 64 people, suitable for joint meetings with other clubs, provide free parking and get us closer to our West Central / Holmes Elementary service projects.  Heideman said the new venue “offers good food and a good location.”

          President-elect Lenore Romney, who worked with the Lincoln Center staff on the relocation, said, “They want to be our venue for life.”

          The Lincoln Center is at 1316 N. Lincoln, at the corner of Sharp and Lincoln.  It was built as a church in the 1920s, incorporating some of Art Deco architectural details popular then.  A concrete block gym was added in the 1980s.

          The Lincoln Center has two large ballrooms.  The Lincoln Ballroom seats 650 theater-style and 400 for dinner.  The Monroe Ballroom seats 325 theater-style and 275 dinner-style.  Club board members noted this offers us options for larger fund-raising events, such as the one this spring at Patsy Clark’s.

          The Center bills itself as “Spokane’s premier event facility.”  Upcoming events include a Winemakers’ Dinner, Sept. 12, “Cooking for a Cause,” Sept. 19, The Oktoberfest Beer Dinner, Oct. 3, the “Santa Claus Event for People and Pets,” Nov. 30 and “Bling! In The New Year,” Dec. 31.

          Back to school: About a dozen club members and guests made quick work of moving the school supplies into cupboards and closets at Holmes Elementary after the Aug. 25 luncheon meeting.  About 20 boxes of materials were stored.  The work party included Melody Farance, who coordinated the fund drive for the supplies, plus Lenore Romney, Doug Toone, Dave Hayward, Art Rudd, Bruce Ellwein, Marc Visintainer,  Eric Johnson, Chuck Rehberg and three guests from the luncheon.  Stephanie Lund, the new principal at Holmes, greeted the Rotarians and thanked the club for its generosity.

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          Lucky draw: Sandy Fink’s guest, and sister, Mary Fink, was asked to draw the weekly raffle winning ticket.  So, of course, she drew her own ticket.  Mary then generously donated the $10 prize to the Holmes School fund.  Maybe we should have had her buy lottery tickets.

Home-sales market shows positive signs

         While not enjoying boom times, Spokane’s real estate market had a good spring sales experiences and is poised for a good autumn.

         Pinch-hitting on short notice, club member Eric Johnson, a Realtor with Coldwell, Banker, Tomlinson, presented his always informative update on area home sales.

(The scheduled program, North Central Principal Steve Fisk and four students, were unable to attend.)

         Year-to-date home sales, through July, were up 2.5 percent over last year, Johnson said.  Average sale prices were $182,000, up $1,000 from comparable 2013 totals.  Median sale prices increased one percent, he said.

         One other bright note, Johnson said, is that “distress sales are going down a bit.” That category includes foreclosures and bank repossessions.  Johnson said 18-19 percent of the home sale market was bank-owned, a higher rate than comparable markets.

         One anecdotal omen: “Last year we had a strong spring, but a slow fall (in home sales), he said.   “A recent open house on 40th street drew 50 people, in August, when everybody is gone.  So we think this fall will be better.”

        Another indicator, Johnson said, is that “people are building equity in their homes, so they can move to a bigger house, or downsize to a smaller house.”

        Responding to a question, he said the sold-out Kendall Yards development west of downtown is so popular that Greenstone is doing “ghost listings,” orders for properties not yet built.  However, Kendall Yards is too small to “move the needle” in the overall home-sale market, and it has not yet spurred gentrification of other West Central neighborhoods nearby, Johnson said.

       Average time for home sales in Spokane is 60-70 days and the price range of $225,000 to $250,000 “is smokin’,” he said.

       Asked about financing, Johnson said, “Banks are starting to loosen up,” from the overly restrictive reaction to the home mortgage bubble-bursting woes four or five years ago.

       The banks now will overlook a minor credit “blip,” such as a missed credit card payment two years ago, he said.  In the lax days of checking credit, the common lending practice was “it’s got a pulse, write it.”

        He added: “Wall Street said ‘go,’ we’ll sell the paper to Norway and they’re dumb.”

        There is “zero correlation,” Johnson said, between rising interest rates and home sales, because “typically employment is greater when interest sales rise,” offsetting the effects.

        Also as part of the substitute program, Club President Jon Heideman showed a short video on how Rotarians, as a collective force, change the world.

        There are 1.2 million Rotary members – business professionals and community leaders -- in 32,000 clubs worldwide, the video noted, adding: “Just the fact that you are a Rotarian opens doors all over the world.” 

        The film praised the campaign to eradicate polio worldwide, noted that $500 million has been spent on scholarships and foreign student exchanges, and praised efforts such as medical missions and micro-finance programs.

       “Hopefully we can bring some hope and some help,” one speaker said, adding, “Rotary is ordinary people working together to accomplish extraordinary things.”