Melissa Guthrie, Mortgage Direct

Living more simply and making more local connections is a great way to upsize the richness of our lives and downsize the time we spend commuting away from our home to be able to come back and pay for it.

Our newest Roost business sponsor, mortgage broker Melissa Guthrie, knows that living simple and local pays off for her and the people she secures loans for.

She’s lived the life of big corporate banking and large mortgage firms where she too often found she couldn’t serve her customers as well as she wanted to. As a loan officer at a bank she knew that the products she had to offer on any given day weren’t always competitive with other rates and options in the market. At a large brokerage firm, she had access to more options but, still, the variety of people working together to process her clients’ loans too easily let important things fall through the cracks.

For her own quality of life and the quality service she wanted to offer, Melissa decided to go solo . . . forming her own one-woman business, MortgagesDirect, 11 years ago. Now she’s the broker and the receptionist, the processor and the closer, the manager and customer service.

She only processes a half dozen or so loans at a time so they all get her attention. She has access to all the same loans and refinance packages that a big firm does with the “small town” ability to call up the people she likes to work with most to give them the chance to match the rates and terms of a more distant firm.

When Jarrett Altman of Neighborhood Works Realty asked Melissa to join her as a Roost Sponsor, she was happy to help support our community building programs even though she has a very limited need to put her money and time into marketing. Treating her clients as well as she does, word of mouth is more than enough to keep a steady number of home loans and refinancing projects coming her way.

And as fate would have it, she said yes to becoming a Roost Sponsor before fully understanding what The Roost is. It was more than delightful to see her joy when she found out that her son, who is going into the Lodge program at Mt Tabor Middle School in the fall, has options she didn’t even realize in our new after school chill out spot for 6th, 7th and 8th graders.

While Melissa’s going to be checking out The Roost for her family in the fall, we all get to check in with her and Jarrett every quarter so we can keep up on what’s happening in the world of real estate.

Anyone interested in refinancing will be happy to know that interest rates have dropped, averaging in the mid to high 4’s depending upon your loan type, size, credit score, term, etc. Melissa’s rule of thumb on a refinance is that you want to be refinancing at least 1% below what your current rate is to recoup costs within 2 to 3 years. Credit scores are key. Ideally to get your best rate, you want to have a score of 740 or above. If you are thinking of buying in the next 2 or 3 months, now is an ideal time to prequalify. Melissa can help you review your credit and finances. She can be a voice of reason, helping you determine what you can realistically afford which, even with all the finance reforms, is still less than what you could over stretch to qualify for.

Melissa met our co-op member Jarrett Altman around the time she also left a larger firm to form Neighborhood Works Realty. Older, charming homes of the inner Southeast are Jarrett’s specialty.

Sellers: Traditionally in Portland, and this year is no exception, there are less houses on the market in the summer. Jarrett knows this makes August a great time to list a house because there’s not as much competition from other listings. Also, in the summer, there are always eager families looking to get into a particular school (like Sunnyside) by the fall. This is also a good time to plan ahead for listing in the fall taking advantage of the good summer weather to deal with any work needed to get your house on the market for September and October.

Buyers: Now that the rush for the latest tax credit incentives have passed, interest rates coming down to the lowest they have been in the 10 years that Jarrett has been in real estate is the main financial incentive for buying now. Sunnyside houses are currently in the low 300’s for a cute 2 bed; mid-300’s for a fixer with at least 3 beds; high 300’s for a 3 bed that is small, and 400-500 for a really nice 3 bed with all the bedrooms upstairs that is “done” as far as modern upgrades and renovations.

Renovations: Jarrett is a wealth of knowledge on home repairs and improvements with lots of connections to the trustworthy contractors that know how to get things done fast and well. She won’t mind a quick phone call, even if you aren’t putting your house on the market, where she can be neighborly and share the knowledge she’s gathered about the older houses of inner SE Portland.

When each of us focuses on something that makes our community more connected and more vibrant, we all reap the benefits. We can all help our local economy stay vibrant by supporting local businesses and business people committed to living and working locally. It only takes a minute to say thank you when you frequent one of the businesses that sponsor us (listed at and less than five minutes to go on line under our sponsors tab to add your encouraging words in the comments section.

If you want to get started on a loan or refinancing:

Melissa Guthrie

Portland: 503-233-8750
Cell: 512-797-4662
Efax: 512-233-0571 or

For great inner southeast real estate services:
Jarrett Altman: (503) 407-4200
Neighborhood Works Realty