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Open House weekend features Kendall Yards townhome, 500 others in area

It's “open house” weekend in Spokane, with Realtors hosting open house events Saturday and Sunday at more than 500 homes on the market.

The event sponsor is Greenstone Homes, which has the “headquarters house” at the development company's Kendall Yards project on the north bank of the Spokane River near downtown. The fully­-staged townhome is at 408 N. Elm St., west of the Maple Street Bridge.

People visiting any of the open houses this weekend can register to win a $1,500 gift certificate from The Tin Roof. The winner will be announced Wednesday.

All of the open houses can be found at spokaneopen.com.

20-year conman headed to prison

A Spokane man convicted of stealing money from a homeless woman who gave him her savings to rent a home is headed to prison.

But it wasn't the theft that earned Unters “Chuck” Love, 58, a 27-month sentence, it was a bail jumping charge he accrued after he bonded out of jail on his theft charges.

A jury recently convicted Love of six counts of second-degree theft, but he faced only 14 months in prison for those charges. He'll serve that sentence the same time as his sentence for bail jumping.

He'll also be credited for 10 months spent in jail and be eligible for typical sentence reductions through the Department of Corrections.

“He'll do another eight months and then be out and about, no strings attached,” said Deputy Prosecutor George Gagnon. “Thanks, state Legislature.”

Gagnon points to Love's long history of cons and is lack of remorse when describing a man he said “was a pleasure to prosecute.”

“He's being doing this or 20 years it's just the first time since 1991 that we have said no you're not getting a deal, you're going to trial”

Love has at least 107 actions against him in civil courts.

Love denied the charges in an interview at the Spokane County Jail, where he is awaiting transport to prison.

“I never did anything to them except help them try to get into a home,” Love said of the victims.

Love said his victims would have been able to move in to their homes had the police not intervened.

But Gagnon said Love is simply a conman who had no problem stealing money from homeless people and trying to sell or rent properties he doesn't own.

Twelve Spokane County residents apparently agreed. They convicted him April 12 after a short trial in Spokane County Superior Court.

Love said his defense was incompetent, and that the truth will soon be known.

“There is a lot of corruption going on and it's going to come out in the appeal,” Love said. “”The courts and the police department, they basically coerced these people to say what they said.”

Love filed a complaint against Gagnon to the state bar association, but it was dismissed.

In the interview last week, Love declined to discuss a stadium project he proposed in Airway Heights back in 2003.

Love had signed a contract with the Kalispel Tribe to lease 20 acres next to the tribe's Northern Quest casino, but he refused to talk to reporters about his bankruptcy filing or earlier felony convictions for theft and check-bouncing.Read more in the story from 2003 here.

Love also was involved in a scheme in Yakima in 2004 involving a football league.

U.S. builders start fewer homes but permits jump

U.S. builders started work on slightly fewer homes in February. But they began laying the ground work for a turnaround later this year by requesting the most building permits in any month since October 2008, the Associated Press reports.

The Commerce Department said today that builders broke ground on a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 698,000 homes last month. That’s down 1.1 percent from January’s revised level of 706,000, also the highest since October 2008.

Building permits, a gauge of future construction, jumped 5.1 percent last month to 717,000. Two-thirds are for single-family homes, which are critical to a housing recovery.

It can take up to 12 months for a builder to obtain a permit and construct a single-family home.

High Society

Hmmm, I just noticed my Yahoo highlight of the day, http://realestate.yahoo.com/promo/americas-most-expensive-zip-codes-2011.html, “America's Most Expensive Zip Codes” where some of the properties are 34 million.  (I can't even do that many zeroes in my head - and can you really call something that costs 34 million a “house”?)

If you have a gazillion dollars to spend on a place to live - can you call it “home”?   If you live in a mansion (and I'm assuming that if you do - you won't be reading my little paltry post anyway so it doesn't really matter), can you lounge in your jammies on the couch, with your feet on the coffee table, and eat cinnamon-sugar toast without worrying about crumbs?  Do you scratch your belly and burp with a feeling of satisfaction that you have started your day with total abandon of any polite mannerisms?

Does your dog get to sit on the couch and snuggle next to you?  Do you even have a couch?  

My house could fit in your 700 square foot bathroom - the one that you don't use.  You probably wouldn't even notice me - except that I would have to use your front door to get in and out - but I could use the backdoor along with your “staff.”  

Does a 34 million dollar “home” increase your peace and contentment?  Do you really need a vacation to “get out of Dodge”?

OK, then, I'm just going to, um, go back to my humble little cubby hole, just off the railroad tracks, next to the neighborhood dog kennel.


Deputy pleads guilty to fraud, resigns

Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputy Brett J. Peterson pleaded guilty Thursday to defrauding a federal program that provides discounted mortgages to law enforcement officers.

Peterson, 41, who’s a 14-year veteran of the department, declined comment other than to say he resigned from the Sheriff’s Office this week.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell Smoot also declined comment after the hearing, which did not appear on any court docket and remained sealed from public notice until Peterson appeared in court.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Builders start more homes but pace still slow

WASHINGTON — Builders broke ground on more new homes in May, but not enough to signal a recovery in the troubled housing market.

Home construction rose 3.5 percent from April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 560,000 units per year, the Commerce Department said today.

Economists say the pace of construction is far below the 1.2 million homes per year that must be built to sustain a healthy housing market. Many credit-strapped builders are struggling to compete with low-priced foreclosures.

Housing permits, a gauge of future construction, rose last month to the highest level since December. But apartment and condominium construction accounted for a large portion of that increase. Renting has become a preferred option for many Americans who lost their jobs in the recession and who were forced to leave their rapidly depreciating homes.

Ground breaking at “Old Hillyard High School”

The Spokane Housing Authority is holding a ground breaking ceremony at “the old Hillyard High School” on Nov. 10 at 12:30 p.m. The event starts the construction of the Agnes Kehoe Place. The address is 5313 N. Regal.

Or three decent Spokane homes…

The New York Times regularly compares home values around the country with its “What  You Get For … “ series.

Today it plugs in $600,000 and include a visit to Schweitzer Mountain — where that money will get you a three-bedroom, three-bath, ski-in, ski-out condominium.

This unit was completely renovated and customized by its current owner, a woodworker and former professional skier from Norway. All interior wood was locally milled and hand-hewn.

Downtown Sandpoint, flanking Lake Pend Oreille, is about 25 minutes away. The town draws snow-sports enthusiasts in the winter, and boaters and fishermen to the lake in the summer. Amtrak trains run through Sandpoint on their way to Chicago and the Seattle area; and Spokane, Wash., has an international airport about two hours away.

Columnist: Mix Genders, Mix Messages

It is painfully obvious some would chose to room with a significant other. This is America, and two consenting adults are free to do whatever they can possibly imagine. However, this is with the state’s assistance. While I am sure our student body is doing everything possible to be “safe,” accidents do happen, and the state is currently working to prevent unwanted pregnancies and financially supporting single mothers. It is counterproductive for the state to simultaneously support mixed-gender cohabitation while at the same time pleading for people to abstain until they are financially solvent/Jeff Reznicek, UI Argonaut. More here.

Question: Is the University of Idaho sending mixed messages with its intention to offer mixed-gender housing?

IVA: UI Can’t Defend Co-Ed Housing

Word evidently got back to U of I administrators of this brewing storm, because by 3 p.m. on Friday afternoon, every legislator had received a plaintive letter from Bruce Pitman, the school’s Vice Provost of Student Affairs and Dean of Students. Pitman complains that press accounts had misrepresented the school’s policy, and assured legislators that co-ed options would only be open to upper class students – juniors and seniors – as if it was the age and not the concept that was of primary concern. The purpose of the co-ed option, says Pitman, is “to effectively foster positive relationships with the opposite sex” and is available only to “older students.” Trying to defend the policy change on such slim grounds is farcical, since 20- and 21-year old girls can get just as pregnant and just as an infected with an STD as an 18- and 19-year old/Bryan Fischer, Idaho Values Alliance. More here.

Question: Should Idaho legislators pressure the University of Idaho to overturn its decision to allow co-gender living arrangements on campus?