BMO Harris Bank Mortgage Review

About BMO Harris Bank N.A.

BMO Harris Bank N.A.

BMO Harris Bank provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through over 600 branches and approximately 1,300 ATMs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Arizona and Florida. These include solutions for everyday banking, financing, investing.

We focus on building relationships with a vision to be the bank that defines great customer experience — building that reputation with new customers and deepening it with existing customers. We're building our presence and making it easier for customers to do business with us through an integrated network of branches, mobile banking, online banking and ATMs, along with the expertise of our mortgage specialists, commercial bankers and financial planners.


What is BMO Harris Bank Mortgage?

BMO Harris Bank was founded in 1882, but its current charter was established in 2011. The company is headquartered in Chicago, and it is owned by the Bank of Montreal (BMO). BMO Harris originated more than $1.8 billion in mortgage loans in 2017, 30% of which were granted to borrowers with low or moderate incomes, according to a 2018 company report.


Working with BMO Harris Bank Mortgage

BMO Harris offers fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages and low down payment loans. The company operates more than 570 bank branches in eight states:  

  • Arizona
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Wisconsin

BMO Harris is licensed to provide mortgages in all of the above states. Borrowers must have a minimum credit score of 620 to qualify for a conventional loan, and other loan products require higher scores. To qualify for a Neighborhood Home Loan, you’ll need at least a 640 credit score. If you’re applying for a Home Possible Advantage loan, your score must be at least 660.

BMO Harris issues mortgages for single- and multi-family properties up to four units. The property must be your primary residence. You may also be able to take out a mortgage for a condo or townhome through BMO Harris.


BMO Harris Bank Mortgage products

Purchase

Conventional

Jumbo

FHA

Home Possible Advantage

Construction

Investment

Housing Finance Agency Program

Refinance

Conventional

FHA

Home equity

Home equity line of credit

BMO Harris Bank Mortgage special mortgage programs

  • Physicians’ Mortgage Program: BMO Harris offers a special program to aid doctors and medical fellows and residents in the homebuying process. The lender uses flexible underwriting standards to accommodate high debt-to-income ratios doctors may have incurred as a result of borrowing to attend medical school.

    The Physicians’ Mortgage Program does not require borrowers to submit an income history, but you’ll need to show evidence that you will have income within 60 days of closing on the loan. Qualified customers may borrow up to 100% of the cost of the home, provided the price is less than $750,000. You can take up to 95% for homes between $750,000 and $1 million. For homes that cost $1 million to 1.5 million, you can borrow 90%.

    Additional features may include a $200 reduction in closing costs, no mortgage insurance requirement and the option to use the loan toward single-family homes (1-2 units), townhomes and condos.

  • Low down payment loans: BMO Harris offers low down payment options across its purchase loan categories. Down payment requirements range from 3% to 5%, depending on the product:
    • Conventional loan: 5%
    • Neighborhood Home Loan: 3%-5%This is a proprietary BMO Harris program for borrowers who are either in low- to moderate-income census tracts or who meet income limits in their areas. The loans apply only to primary residences, and borrowers cannot qualify if they have ownership interest in other residential properties.

      A Neighborhood Home Loan may be used to purchase and refinance mortgages. Borrowers must have a credit score of at least 640 when purchasing a home and 680 when refinancing.

      Borrowers may use a grant or gift toward their down payment, but they must use some of their own funds, too. If your credit score is 640-659, you will need to contribute the greater of $1,000 or 3% of the loan amount. Borrowers with scores of 660 and above must put down the greater of $1,000 or 1% of the loan amount.

      You may use a Neighborhood Home Loan to purchase a single-family home, condo, townhouse or planned-unit development (PUD). However, the 3% down payment option only applies to single-family homes. If you purchase a multifamily property, you will need a 5% down payment.

      Borrowers using a Neighborhood Home Loan for purchase must complete a homebuyer education course.

    • FHA loan: 3.5%
    • Home Possible Advantage: 3%
    • Housing Finance Agency Program: 3%
  • Down payment assistance: You may be able to obtain a grant for down payment assistance depending on the county in which you plan to buy or refinance a home. The funding may come from BMO Harris or via government programs that provide support for homeowners. Potential assistance amounts are as follows:
    • Conventional loan: $1,000-$3,000
    • Neighborhood Home Loan: $1,000-$10,000
    • FHA loan: $1,000-$10,000
    • Home Possible Advantage: $1,000-$10,000
    • Housing Finance Agency Program: $1,000-$10,000 with the possibility of accessing additional assistance
  • No closing costs on HELOCs: BMO Harris will assume the closing expenses for HELOC products. However, you must live in the property and it must be a 1-4 unit.
  • Up to $200 off closing costs for existing customers: If you already have a financial account with BMO Harris, you may be eligible for a $100-$200 discount on closing costs when you set up an auto-pay arrangement.

The mortgage application process

If you’re interested in working with BMO Harris, you can get pre-qualified through the company’s website or via phone or in-person appointment.

To apply for pre-qualification, contact a BMO Harris mortgage banker and provide them with your asset and income information, as well as any debts you are carrying, your credit score and financial history. The mortgage banker will use that information to determine how much you’ll be able to borrow and will then issue a pre-qualification letter you can use during your home search. At this time, the banker may counsel you on which loans best suit your circumstances and the various costs associated with borrowing.

Once you’ve pre-qualified, you can begin the application process through BMO Harris’s website. The first step is to choose the type of loan for which you want to apply and submit key information to receive your initial loan estimate. The data you’ll need to provide includes:

  • Income
  • How much you want to borrow
  • The address of the home you want to purchase
  • Value of the home
  • Your Social Security number

From there, you will be given a loan estimate that includes the expected interest rate, estimated closing costs and your monthly payment amounts. If you decide to move forward with the application, you’ll need to provide documentation on your financial circumstances and the home you plan to buy. These documents may include:

  • Information about all your forms of income, whether from salary or wages, investments or alimony
  • Employment verification
  • Three months’ worth of bank and investment statements
  • Contract for the home you’re buying
  • Contact information for your realtor and, if applicable, the attorney representing you in the purchase

BMO Harris will ask you to review the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s home loan tool kit before signing your application and submitting your intent to proceed.

The next step is the processing period, during which BMO Harris will order the appraisal. The lender will also order the title commitment, private mortgage insurance certificate and flood certification as needed.

Following the loan processing, your application will move to underwriting. At this point, you’ll need to provide documentation of your homeowners’ insurance and flood insurance (if the latter is stipulated).

After the application is approved, BMO Harris will arrange your closing date and time. The closing will take place either at the title company’s office or at a BMO Harris branch.


Pros and cons of a BMO Harris Bank Mortgage mortgage

Pros

  • Several low down payment options. BMO Harris caters to borrowers seeking low-down-payment mortgages. These make homeownership more easily accessible if you’re struggling to save up.
  • Down payment assistance. The lender further assists homebuyers by providing down payment assistance grants and helping connect qualified borrowers with additional resources.
  • Specialty programs. BMO Harris offers a special program to aid doctors, medical fellows and residents in the homebuying process.

Cons

  • Limited number of products. Although BMO Harris offers several purchase products attractive to borrowers with minimal savings, it does not appear to offer a wide range of mortgages, including VA and USDA loans. The company’s website also does not specify whether the lender offers home equity loans or what types of refinance programs are available.
  • Lack of detailed application information. BMO Harris offers an online application, but it is not specified whether the process is entirely digital or whether you can track your loan status via the website or an app.

Editorial Note: Parts of this article were reviewed by a lender to ensure accuracy prior to publication. The overall conclusions, recommendations and opinions are the author’s alone.

The information in this article is accurate as of the date of publishing.