BMO Harris Bank Mortgage Review 2020
Editor’s note: The overall conclusions, recommendations and opinions are the author’s alone. The information in this article is accurate as of the date of publishing.
BMO Harris was founded in 1882 as N.W. Harris & Co., and established under its current charter as BMO Harris Bank National Association in 2011. The company is headquartered in Chicago, and its parent company is the Bank of Montreal.
BMO Harris offers a wide variety of banking products and services, including mortgages, personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment services.
Working with BMO Harris
BMO Harris primarily serves customers in Canada and the United States. BMO Harris offers mortgages in all U.S. states except New York or Texas.
It has more than 500 branches in the following states:
BMO Harris borrowing requirements
BMO Harris offers a downloadable guide to homeownership, but doesn’t provide information online about minimum credit score requirements. It also doesn’t provide information about manual underwriting options for borrowers with challenging loan scenarios, like low credit scores or those who are self-employed.
BMO Harris’ website also doesn’t list the property types it finances. However, BMO Harris financing is available for condominiums and multifamily homes with one to four residential units.
BMO Harris mortgage products
- Conventional fixed-rate mortgages. BMO Harris offers various fixed-rate terms for purchasing primary residences, second homes or investment properties. Options include both 15- and 30-year loans.
- Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs). Borrowers may be able to qualify for an ARM that comes with an initial rate period of five or seven years. After that, rates may adjust every six months, depending on market conditions, for the rest of the loan term.
- Freddie Mac Home Possible Advantage℠ loans. In addition to receiving a loan, eligible borrowers may be able to receive up to $10,000 to put toward a 3% down payment. The program requires a 660 minimum credit score and private mortgage insurance (PMI) for down payments of less than 20%.
- Housing Finance Agency loans. Homebuyers with limited incomes may be able to receive up to $10,000 in down payment assistance; the minimum down payment is 3%. The loans require a 640 minimum credit score and the purchase of private mortgage insurance for down payments of less than 20%.
- Jumbo loans. Luxury homebuyers looking to borrow above the $510,400 limit for conforming loans in most areas can choose from fixed- and adjustable-rate jumbo loan options. Qualified jumbo customers may be able to receive a 0.375% discount on their interest rate.
- Fixed-rate refinance loans. BMO Harris’ website doesn’t feature specific information about refinance programs. However, it does advertise both 30- and 15-year fixed rates for conforming and jumbo refi loans.
- Home equity lines of credit (HELOCs). BMO Harris offers HELOCs with a fixed-rate lock option. This gives HELOC borrowers access to a flexible line of credit, but also lets them lock in all or a portion of their balance with a fixed interest rate for a specific term.
- Construction loans. BMO Harris provides one-time close or construction-only loans. The single-close option starts as a construction loan, converting to a regular mortgage when the home is completed. Rate locks are available for up to 180 days for fixed-rate mortgages and 450 days for ARMs.
BMO Harris special mortgage programs
- Affordable Housing Grant Program. Low- to moderate-income borrowers can choose several affordable housing grant programs to buy or refinance a home. Grants of $1,000 to $3,000 are available to finance homes in select census tract counties in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Washington and Wisconsin.
- Neighborhood Home purchase loans. This proprietary BMO Harris program requires a 3% down payment and a 660 minimum FICO score. Buyers may receive $1,000 to $10,000 in down payment assistance. No mortgage insurance is required.
- Neighborhood Home refinance loans. Borrowers with a 680 minimum credit score and at least 5% equity in their home can refinance with no mortgage insurance requirement. As an added bonus, BMO Harris may contribute $1,000 to $3,000 for closing costs.
- Freddie Mac Home Possible Advantage refinance loans. Qualified homeowners with at least 3% of equity in their homes and a 680 credit score may be able to refinance and receive a reduced rate for private mortgage insurance, if required. BMO Harris contributes $1,000 to $3,000 for closing costs.
- Cross-border mortgage loans. BMO Harris’ Gateway program is designed for Canadian citizens buying or refinancing a home in the U.S. Conventional fixed and ARM options are available with loan amounts up to $2 million.
The mortgage application process
- How to apply. Borrowers can apply online to see if they’re preapproved for a loan. BMO Harris will ask for information about income, assets and debts, and will also order a credit report.
- Disclosure process. Borrowers receive a loan estimate for all loan costs within three business days after applying.
- Submitting loan for approval. BMO Harris’ “Steps to Homeownership” guide provides a list of the documents you may need to submit to verify income, assets and debts. A written loan approval will detail the maximum loan amount you’ll receive, as well as your monthly payment.
- Closing. Your closing will most likely take place in the office of a title company, which will prepare the closing documents and handle final details.
- Servicing. BMO Harris services its loans and provides online information and support for existing mortgage customers.
Communication during the process
At BMO Harris, mortgage bankers work with borrowers throughout the loan process. For mortgage-related questions, call 888-482-3781, Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central time; Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time; and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Central time.
Pros and cons of a BMO Harris mortgage
- Offers a wide variety of specialized down payment and closing cost assistance programs
- Offers a unique home equity line of credit with fixed-rate lock-in option
- Offers competitive construction loan programs with extended lock options
- Doesn’t provide information online about government-backed loan offerings
- Doesn’t offer fixed-rate home equity loans
- Has limited branch locations in eight states, primarily in the Midwest