PROS / Some branches offer interest-only and construction loans.
CONS / It charges an application fee.
VERDICT / CitiMortgage offers a variety of loans, including interest-only and construction loans at certain branches. Its interest rates and fees are generally below average. However, it's better to call a specific branch than apply through the website.
CitiMortgage is our Top Ten Reviews Silver Award winner because it offers one of the widest varieties of mortgage and refinance loans at very competitive rates. CitiMortgage is part of Citibank, an international banking institution. In addition to the most commonly offered traditional and government-program loans, it can offer interest-only and construction loans through certain branches. It has fixed- and adjustable-rate loans. CitiMortgage does not offer home equity or HELOC loans, but its parent bank does.
We found its interest rates, both posted and in our test case, to at or lower than average, and the underwriting fees at or below average. It has excellent customer service and an easy application process. It's one of the few mortgage lenders that charges an application fee, but it offers pre-approval without any special fees.
Rates & Fees
While most mortgage lenders will pre-qualify you for a loan, only a few pre-approve. CitiMortgage is one of those few. The application fee applies, but pre-approval gives you an edge when house-hunting in an area where sellers may get more than one offer on their house.
CitiMortgage posts its current rates online, which were around average for the mortgage lenders we reviewed. Many banks post sample interest rates, but each calculates those rates for what it considers a typical best-case scenario, and these scenarios differ from bank to bank. Therefore, we also compared interest rates for a $150,000 loan with $20,000 down for an individual with a credit rating of 700. CitiMortgage has an online calculator to tell you the interest rates, a nice tool only a few mortgage companies offer. Through it, we found the interest rates to be well below average for our test case.
The calculator also gave us approximate closing costs. Closing costs, however, are dependent on many factors beyond the bank's control. CitiMortgage charges between $700 and $1,000 in fees, which is lower than average to average for the companies we reviewed. This was the only bank that charged an application fee. If you are a Citibank member, you may qualify for cost credits toward closing.
Eligibility & Requirements
Most of CitiMortgage's preferred qualifications run average for mortgage lenders. They look for at least a 620 credit rating and 24 months of steady employment. In addition, they prefer a 20 percent down payment, but can go as low as five percent. With a few exceptions, loans with less than 20 percent down must include private mortgage insurance, which adds to your overall payments.
It can provide loans for anywhere from 10 to 30 years in one year increments. This can be an advantage if you are refinancing and don't want to extend your payment schedule beyond what it would be otherwise. While CitiMortgage itself does not provide home equity loans or lines of credit, you can get these through Citibank itself.
You can start the application process online and track the status as it goes through approval. This is a handy convenience not offered by every mortgage lender. However, the CitiMortgage website is not the best place if you're looking for information. We found several bad links, for example, and little extra information aside from the usual mortgage calculators. However, it does have a link to homes the bank has for sale, so if you are still shopping, you may find a good deal.
There is live chat online, but the window pops up intermittently. When calling, we also had some issues with the phone system cutting us off. Nonetheless, when we did reach loan officers, we found them knowledgeable and helpful. One recommended to our mystery shopper that she visit a loan officer at a local branch. We found this refreshing when compared to the more sales- and commission-focused agents of other agencies. Citibank has over 900 local branches in 14 states.
Loan Types Offered
This bank offers standard fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgages. It also offers government-program loans like FHA or HARP. These offer first-time homebuyers or other special cases some benefits, like needing a smaller down payment or waiving mortgage insurance. It is the only mortgage company we spoke to that offered interest-only mortgages through its branches. For these, you can pay just the interest for the first 10 years of the loan, then pay interest and principal for the last 20 years. Not every branch may have this program, however. Construction loans likewise may be offered only at specific branches.
Overall, we found CitiMortgage an excellent choice for home mortgages or refinancing. It offers a good variety of loan options, pre-approval and competitive interest rates. It's definitely worth considering for an interest-only or construction loan, though you will need to speak to a local branch for those. It is easier to reach an agent locally or to use the online application, but the loan agents we spoke to were helpful and knowledgeable.