Melissa Holt

Producing Manager | NMLS 331083
Phone | Fax:
621 Pacific Avenue, Suite 400, Tacoma, WA 98402

Hello! I'm Melissa. Leader of the Holt Loans Team, a Producing Manager for our Tacoma office, mother of 2 and wife to a great husband. I live in Auburn, WA and love to camp and dance. I also run a mom's networking group, a fantasy football league and teach home buyer education courses for WA state.

My career focus has always been customer service and education. Mortgage lending is not just about financing a home for a person. It's about helping families achieve financial goals and dreams. My team and I are dedicated to providing a stellar, communicative and educational lending experience to every client. We do that by working hard, taking advantage of today's technology, working with an innovative and forward thinking company and by assessing every situation thoroughly to ensure that we are delivering a quality and consistent product every time.

From the purchase of your first house the refinance of your last, we look forward to serving all of your home financing needs!

Causes I Care About


My Favorite Restaurant

The Rock

My Ideal Vacation Spot


My Favorite Pastime


"Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right."

— - Henry Ford

Hot Off The Press


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12 of the top cities and towns to start the next chapter of your life.

When thinking about the “best places to retire,” most people’s minds automatically go to a quaint little coastal town somewhere warm, but according to Forbes, there are more important traits to look for than warm weather when considering a place to retire. Taking things such as cost of living, cultural events and attractions, and quality of life into account, we’ve pinpointed 12 of the best places to retire that may be a little underrated.

1. Athens, Georgia

Home to the University of Georgia, Athens, known as “the Classic City,” is the quintessential college town. Just 70 miles east of Atlanta, it’s only a short drive away from one of the South’s most happening cities. The cost of living is 8% below the national average and the median home price is $161,000. The climate is generally warm and the city has a vibrant downtown area that plays host to several cultural events throughout the year, from music festivals to bike races.

2. Bella Vista, Arkansas

Admit it. Nobody thinks Arkansas when thinking about a potential retirement home, but the charm of this small Ozark foothills town may surprise you. Located right on the Mississippi River, Bella Vista offers beautiful views of the river and the Ozark Mountains. With a cost of living that’s 13% below the national average and a median home price of $160,000, your retirement money can go a long way here. We can’t say the same for a pricey beach town.

3. Clemson, South Carolina

The second college town on the list shares its name with the university that calls it home. Clemson is settled on Lake Hartwell and is about an hour from Athens and about two hours from Charlotte, NC, the second most populous city in the South. The cost of living is right at the national average and the median home price is $129,000. With a warm climate and a high walkability rating, Clemson is a great place to be during any time of the year.

4. Colorado Springs, Colorado

Described as an “outdoor playground,” Colorado Springs is a city of about 455,000 just 60 miles south of Denver. The cost of living is a little high at 5% above the national average, but Colorado Springs has plenty of activities to get involved with to lead an active lifestyle well into retirement age. Bikes are very popular, as are volunteering and nonprofit organizations. The city also is home to several well-known cultural events throughout the year. The median home price is $242,000.

5. Green Valley, Arizona

Green Valley is a collection of dozens of retirement communities with a total population of about 32,000 just 20 miles south of Tucson. The cost of living is 4% below the national average and the median home price is $157,000. Days are hot, but nights are a lot cooler thanks to the town’s 3,000-foot elevation, and winters are barely winters at all. The crime rate is low and there’s a very good tax climate for retirees with no state income tax in Social Security benefits. Green Valley is the perfect place to settle in with plenty of things to do for retirement-aged people.

6. Savannah, Georgia

Just 30 miles inland from the Georgia coast lies the lush river city of Savannah. Savannah has a population of around 146,000 and is one of America’s oldest and most beautiful cities. The cost of living is 14% below the national average and the median home price is about $118,000, making Savannah one of the country’s biggest retirement spots as far as value goes. It’s a walkable city with a lot to do and get involved with, especially in the summer months.

7. Port Charlotte, Florida

Finally, a Florida town! Just 100 miles south of Tampa, Port Charlotte is a small inlet town of 56,000 on the Gulf Coast. You can expect the typical Florida weather, but with a cost of living at 6% below the national average and a median home price of $150,000, you’ll get more bang for your buck here than other places on the Florida coast. It’s a relatively new area as well, as it was founded in 1757 but remained undeveloped for more than two centuries.

8. The Villages, Florida

The Villages is a fast-growing, senior citizen-oriented community of about 171,000 just 60 miles northwest of Orlando. The cost of living sits right at the national average and the median home price is $250,000. There’s plenty to do for retirement-aged people including golf, recreation centers, entertainment, town squares, nature trails, and an abundance of lakes and rivers to explore. With the typical Florida climate and a thriving local economy, The Villages is a great place to start the next chapter of your life and invite your family to come hang out during the summer months.

9. Peoria, Arizona

Settled just northwest of Phoenix, Peoria is a decent-sized desert suburb of about 167,000. The climate is hot, and the cost of living sits at 9% above the national average, but this desert utopia more than makes up for it with plenty of golf courses, recreation centers, museums, and nature trails to spend time exploring. Median home prices are around $240,000 and the city has a thriving local economy. As the icing on the cake, Arizona doesn’t carry a state income tax on Social Security benefits.

10. Ocean Pines, Maryland

A beautiful, bikeable community on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Ocean Pines is a coastal town without the touristy feel of other popular retirement spots. It’s a small town of 12,000 just eight miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a bit pricier than some of the other places on this list with a cost of living sitting at 5% above the national average and a median home price of $215,000, but its moderate climate and coastal location make this wooded, waterfront paradise a retirement hotspot.

11. Wenatchee, Washington

150 miles east of Seattle on the scenic Columbia River lies the sunny city of Wenatchee. Thankfully, since it’s situated on the dry side of the Cascade Mountain Range, Wenatchee doesn’t see nearly as much rain as other cities in Washington. Known as the “Apple Capital of the World,” the city is home to a population of about 33,000 and a median home price of $225,000. The cost of living is about 11% above the national average, but it consistently ranks highly on lists of best cities for successful aging. If you’ve been interested in exploring the Pacific-Northwest, Wenatchee may be the place for you to retire.

12. Maryville, Tennessee

Nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Maryville, Tennessee is a charming small town of 28,000 just 18 miles south of Knoxville. The cost of living is a whopping 13% below the national average and a median-priced home will run you about $154,000. The weather is mild for most of the year, but there is some snow during the winter months. The local economy is thriving and you’re just a few miles from beautiful mountain views and the Tennessee River.

Looking to buy a retirement home in one of these awesome cities? Give us a call and get pre-qualified today!

The pros and cons of renting out your home to strangers.

It’s spring break season! As the weather slowly warms up, so might you to the possibility of opening up your home to vacationers. This time of year, homeowners around the globe will take advantage of the opportunity to rent out their homes and make some extra cash. Will you? Here are some advantages (and potential pitfalls) to renting out your home.

pro: can give you extra income

Probably one of the most common and convincing reasons why homeowners rent out their home during spring break is because of the allure of extra income. While some people might take up a part-time job to bring in a little side money, others take to renting out their home. Doing so can help offset the costs of homeownership.

If you’re renting out a couple of rooms in your primary residence, this cash from renting out your home can go toward your utility bills, taxes and insurance, or your mortgage’s principal balance. However, if you’re renting out your investment property during that week, you may not make enough from spring break alone to cover the cost of owning that property—but you could at least make a dent in what you owe.

con: your visitors might not be the greatest

So you can make extra money by renting out your home to vacationers. Sounds great! If that’s the case, why wouldn’t you do it? Many homeowners forego renting out their property during spring break because they don’t want to deal with potentially bad tenants. The truth is, some guests aren’t the greatest. They might be messy, dirty, or disrespectful to your home. They may not leave the place better than they found it (which is what you’re hoping they’ll do, right?).

Two things can help you decide to rent or not to rent out your home: one is checking with your insurance company. You may or may not be covered for damages made by your tenants. Definitely review the terms of your home insurance coverage and even call your insurance company to get further confirmation. But let’s say you’re covered—another thing that can help you decide is screening your tenants. More on that in another blog post, but basically, homeowners often say OK to renting out their home because they have the ability to screen and/or interview their visitors, which helps instill a bit of confidence in the type of stranger they’re welcoming.

pro: you might get a tax break

Homeownership has long been a major part of the American dream. For some, it may still be. And for good reason. Not only do homeowners experience the freedom of owning their own place and the financial benefits of building equity and good credit, many also receive tax breaks when tax refund season comes around. (Due to the new tax reform passed in January, the new cap on mortgage interest deduction is set to $750,000 for new mortgages only.) Pretty sweet deal if you ask us!

con: if you’re not used to being a landlord, you might not like it

Similar to having not-so-great visitors, if you’re not used to being a landlord, you might not enjoy it, even if it’s only for one week out of the year. During your visitors’ stay (if you haven’t hired a property manager) you’ll have to be on call for any problems that arise—from getting locked out to clogged toilets, there’s a whole slew of issues you may have to resolve for your visitors! For some homeowners, a lack of wanting to deal with mishaps like these is reason enough to say no to renting out their home. Will this be a determining factor for you too?

pro: there are lots of resources out there to help you

Lots of homeowners choose to rent out their property during spring break because they have the support of many tools and resources to help make it happen! Airbnb is an ever-popular site for renting out your home, but alternatives are out there if you’re willing to try something different. These sites offer great services for listing your home, including receiving inquiries and managing your relationships with your tenants during their stay.

We also recommend consulting a legal, financial, and/or real estate advisor to help you manage this new endeavor. Many homeowners solicit help from such an advisor because they have the professional experience and legal backing to properly advocate for you and help you through the process.

Are you interested in purchasing an investment property for the purpose of renting it out to make some extra income? We can help! Our industry-leading Conventional and Jumbo financing could be the loan you need to finance your next rental property. Call us today!

Did this blog post help you understand the pros and cons of renting out your home? Give us a shout-out on social media!

Bye, bye insecurities. Cardinal’s got you covered.

10. why should I become a homeowner when renting is just fine?

Renting may be fine, but we think buying is better (OK, we’re partial). Homeownership has long been part of the American dream, and when you crunch the numbers and compare the financial aspects of buying versus renting, you can start to see why. Although buying a home can be more expensive up front, over time, it can be a wiser financial decision. Many renters who’ve made the switch to homeownership will tell you that their biggest hurdle was saving for a down payment and closing costs (more on that later), but month over month, they’ve actually saved money. Plus, why pay someone else’s mortgage when you can be making an investment and building equity?

But the benefits of home buying aren’t just financial—sometimes it’s the simple freedom that comes with owning your own space! When you rent, you often face restrictions like you can’t paint or hang up photos, you can’t have a pet without paying a bunch of fees, and you can’t really make long-term plans. When you think about all the benefits of buying your own home, does renting really seem “just fine”?

We know it’s a job well done when “I’m not ready to buy a house yet” turns into “Why didn’t I buy a house sooner?”

9. what if I’m not ready to buy a house yet?

To that we say, “If not now, when?” We get that the timing isn’t always right, and your obstacles to homeownership may be currently out of your control. But as industry veterans, we’ve seen it all, and we challenge you to reimagine the possibilities of homeownership.

If you’re worried about coming up with that hefty 20% down payment, don’t be. For qualifying borrowers, we now accept as little as 3.5% on FHA loans, 3% on Conventional loans, and 0% on VA loans. Plus, we have down payment assistance programs and we honor mortgage credit certificates in certain states—one of them could be yours! We’ll even work with grants and gift funds, depending on your loan program and financial situation, and we’re always working to make sure you’re getting the best value possible. Because we know it’s a job well done when “I’m not ready to buy a house yet” turns into “Why didn’t I buy a house sooner?”

8. what if I don’t have good credit history?

You’re in good company. Managing credit wisely is no easy feat. We understand managing credit can be tricky and challenging at times, sometimes even resulting in significant derogatory credit events like bankruptcy and foreclosure. If it’s happened to you, you’re not damaged goods. Choose the flexible lender. At Cardinal Financial, we don’t try to fit you to a product—we fit our product to you. With low credit score options (580 for FHA loans!) and an Expanded loan product for borrowers with credit challenges, we’re prepared to show you that your homeownership dreams are possible.

If you’ve experienced a significant derogatory event, you’re not damaged goods.

7. what if I already got a quote from another lender?

There’s good news for both of us! If you already got a quote or loan estimate from another lender, the good news is you don’t have to stick with them. Call us and you might qualify for something better. We price competitively and many of our customers will tell you that our rate and fee combination won them over to Team Cardinal. While the rest of the market is in a big brouhaha, competing for today’s piece of the pie and focused on short-term goals, we’re making long-term investments. We don’t offer “get rich quick” deals because we know those types of business moves are unsustainable. Cardinal Financial is our name and longevity is our game—we plan on sticking around for a while.

6. what if the loan process takes a long time?

Is your lease up soon? Need to move quickly and get in your new home fast? No problem. We proudly average 29 days from lock to close (on home purchases) and we’ll work our hardest to get you home as quickly as we can. How can we speak so confidently, you ask? It’s our talented, go-the-extra-mile staff and our fast proprietary technology. We’ve spent years developing our own intuitive loan origination system which processes loans super fast. And because we believe so much in this digital platform, we’ve created a training program to make our already amazing staff fluent in how to use it. “Long time” . . . says who? Not Cardinal customers.

5. what if I have no idea what I’m doing?

First-time buyers are our specialty. Even if this isn’t your first home purchase, we’ll take good care of you. We make sure to hire only the very best staff that’s both talented and trained to handle even complex financial situations. It’s OK if you have no idea what goes into the mortgage process. We’ll give clear directions, set accurate expectations, and talk you through the process every step of the way. And, if there’s a question we can’t answer and we need to escalate, our management team is readily accessible on the floor.

Cardinal Financial is our name and longevity is our game—we plan on sticking around for a while.

4. why would I choose someone I’ve never heard of over the big banks?

Great question! Because, normally, big banks come with big rates. Remember that rate and fee combination we mentioned? We offer some of the most competitive rates in the market and customers are loving us for it. We may be the new kids on the block, but we’re dedicated to proving to you that we’re here to stay. It’s all because we believe in delivering a unique and personal lending experience; one that challenges you to reimagine the possibilities of mortgage lending; one that is fast and easy, not archaic like some of the “big guys.”

3. what if digital mortgages are just a fad?

The future is digital, and technology is only getting more and more integrated into our daily lives. From where you are right now, we bet there are at least five electronic devices in the room around you. That should be an indication that the world as we know if it only going to become more marked by technology. Digital mortgages aren’t a fad—that’s what people said about the cell phone 15 years ago and look where we are now.

Fads are not our forté. A digital mortgage experience has been around for years, we just made it better. We’ve now given you the ability to take a few minutes to fill out a short form on our website and, soon after, speak to a loan originator on the phone to discuss your options. By integrating technology right from the start, we’re making your home loan process fast, easy, and seamless from quote to close.

2. what if rates drop again? Shouldn’t I wait to get the best rate out there?

Rates fluctuate all the time. But we agree: you should get the best rate out there. That’s why, if you lock your loan with us, we have triggers set up to alert you when it’s a good time to refinance. Plus, there are so many advantages to being a Cardinal Customer that’s part of our portfolio: we can offer you fast and easy service, minimal documentation requirements, and no lender fees! Rates may not be lower than they are today, and if they rise, don’t you want to say you locked in when they were lower?

1. did we miss any other reason not to choose Cardinal Financial as your lender?

Nope? We can’t think of anything either. So the real question is . . . What are you waiting for? Click here and get started with Cardinal Financial now!

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