December 8, 2010 in Business



Home sales last month lowest total since February

November home sales in Spokane County fell 40 percent compared with the same month in 2009, and the 279 homes sold represented the lowest total since February, according to a report from the Spokane Association of Realtors.

The average sales price was $180,278, up from $177,190 a year ago but down from $189,541 in October. The median price was $152,000, below the $159,925 of a year ago and $166,250 in October.

Association President Rob Higgins said a federal tax credit inflated sales last year. Accurate year-over-year comparisons will not be possible until June, a year after the credits expired, he said.

A turnaround in unemployment would help as well, Higgins said.

“Our whole deal in real estate has to be the job situation,” he said.

Through November, total sales were down 9.4 percent compared with 2009.

The inventory of unsold homes has shrunk 7.2 percent, to 2,950.

Bert Caldwell

Avista honors Wendell Satre with scholarship at UI

Avista Corp. donated $35,000 to the University of Idaho for a scholarship honoring the late Wendell J. Satre.

Satre died last month. He graduated from UI in 1939 and immediately began a 46-year career with Avista, retiring as chairman and CEO in 1985.

The endowed scholarship is in the field of electrical engineering. The first scholarship will be awarded for the 2011-’12 academic year to a junior or senior.

Becky Kramer

Author featured speaker at Northwest Mining meeting

Author Stephen Moore is the keynote lunch speaker today at the Northwest Mining Association’s annual meeting in Spokane.

Moore is the author of five books, including “The End of Prosperity: How Higher Taxes Will Doom the Economy – If We Let it Happen.” He’s a member of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board and a senior economics fellow at the Cato Institute.

Tickets are $35 for the noon lunch at the Spokane Convention Center. The lunch takes place at the Group Health Exhibit Hall.

Hundreds of mining officials are in town this week for the annual meeting, which continues through Friday.

Becky Kramer

Potlatch Corp. stock listing switching to NASDAQ

Potlatch Corp. is switching its stock listing from the New York Stock Exchange to the NASDAQ Global Select Market.

The board of directors approved the switch, which should occur by Dec. 17. Potlatch expects to continue trading under the “PCH” ticker symbol.

Potlatch, a Spokane-based real estate investment trust, owns 1.5 million acres of timberland in Arkansas, Idaho and Minnesota.

Company officials said they made the switch to increase Potlatch’s visibility and shareholder value.

Becky Kramer

Matt Gerber chosen to run Liberty Lake-based IT-Lifeline

Matt Gerber, who’s held jobs at area firms Itronix and SprayCool, has become CEO of Liberty Lake-based IT-Lifeline.

Gerber, 46, takes the reins of the company started by Steven Tabacek, the firm’s only other CEO. Tabacek told board members he felt it was time for another person to direct IT-Lifeline, said Gerber.

IT-Lifeline provides backup and recovery-of-data services for companies across the region. It’s based in the TierPoint building in Liberty Lake. Most of its customers are health care providers and financial service companies.

IT-Lifeline is focusing on gaining new customers in the Seattle area, Gerber said. At present about 30 percent of IT-Lifeline’s customers are from that area. “We want to make that 50 percent in the next two years,” Gerber said.

Gerber held a number of positions, including senior vice president for marketing at Itronix, which was acquired by General Dynamics. He moved to SprayCool where he became CEO in 2007 and then left after the company was acquired earlier this year.

He said Tabacek remains an owner of IT-Lifeline but is pursuing other entrepreneurial interests.

Tom Sowa

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