Intro: What Is Citibank?
Citibank is the consumer division of Citigroup, one of the best-known investment banks in the world. The bank was founded in 1812 and has survived for more than two centuries, adapting to a variety of financial events and trends over that time. A half century later, it had turned itself into one of the country’s biggest banks.
However, despite the great success Citibank has had over its history, its leaders did play prominent roles in both the Great Depression and the financial crisis that began in 2008.
In addition to insurance, credit cards, and various types of investments, Citibank handles a high volume of mortgages for people across the country. Citibank was also one of the leading innovators in online banking, registering Citibank.com in 1991 – years before most people had the slightest idea what the Internet was.
Citibank has received praise for its online banking, which is used by roughly 15 million users. Applying for a mortgage on the Citibank website is one of the many services offered, with the hopes of making banking and finance easier for customers.
Image Source: Citibank Mortgage Reviews
On first glance, the Citibank mortgage home page looks every bit as professional as you’d expect from such a large and trusted multinational corporation. In fact,many Citibank mortgage reviews have spoken highly of Citibank’s website.
On the mortgage page, there are generic and attractive pictures of people smiling and enjoying themselves, creating positive vibes and making the user think that Citibank is the place where dreams come true. This may sound cheesy, or perhaps manipulative, but there’s a reason why big companies do it: it works.
There are four pictures going through a slideshow, each with a link to either do something on the site or to view more information about something. The four options are:
- HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program)
- Buying a Home
- Free Pre-approval
- Refinancing Your Home
The “HARP” link takes the user to a page that explains the new government program to see if he/she may be eligible for it. The program is designed to allow homeowners to lower their monthly mortgage payments.
While this page on the Citibank site is pithy and likely doesn’t explain all the possible scenarios and stipulations of using HARP, the setup of the page and the language used does make it simple and easy for the user to understand the basics of HARP, which is positive in the sense that Citibank is telling clients and potential customers about HARP.
There is also a call-to-action button at the bottom for users to at least start the process of seeing if they qualify for HARP.
Buying a Home
The “Buying a Home” link takes you to a page where you can begin the process of applying for a home loan. Once you fill it out, the site pledges that a representative will contact you with a free assessment of your options.
In addition to your name, phone number, and email address, the information you fill out is basic, giving you little fear about inputting it online. Of course, if you are concerned, the page gives you a phone number you can call. Many CitiMortgage reviews have appreciated both the simplicity and flexibility that Citibank offers them in this regard. The fields required to fill out, other than ones pertaining to your identity, are:
- What is your primary mortgage goal?
- Expected purchase price
- Desired mortgage amount
- Property location (select a state)
Ultimately, this is merely a request for a consultation and not a formal application request, making it a clever method for Citibank to drum up business. However, it is a good first step if you’re thinking about buying a house and in the initial stages of your search.
Image Source: Citibank Mortgage
The “Free Pre-approval” link takes you to the exact same page as the “Buying a Home” link. There is no difference whatsoever between the pages each link takes you to, which only reiterates that Citibank has set this up to encourage those hoping to buy a house to give it their business.
Refinancing Your Home
The “Refinancing Your Home” link also brings you to the same page as the two previous links. The lone difference is that the possible options are different for the question, “What is your primary mortgage goal?” Other than that difference, three of these four links on the Citibank mortgage home page take users to the same page as a method to create business.
Some CitiMortgage complaints have revolved around the redundant nature of this, which can be frustrating for the user. That being said, the links do take the user to a page that does provide a useful service for those looking for a new mortgage or hoping to refinance their current mortgage, so finding the form that can get you started is rarely an issue with the Citibank website.
In addition to ways for users to start the mortgage process, the Citibank website also contains a “Mortgage Classroom,” which contains a great deal of information on the process of finding a mortgage and purchasing a house. Obviously, this is a useful tool, as one can never be too educated when it comes to finance issues, particularly those who are going through the mortgage process for the first time.
However, Citibank uses its Mortgage Classroom feature to plant several links back to the page where users can get a mortgage consultation, which can make the “Mortgage Classroom” seem like a come-on.
Of course, the fact that Citibank has ulterior motives doesn’t make the information any less useful for those who need to be educated on such matters. The so-called classroom is broken down into the following six areas:
- Buying a Home
- Mortgages and Programs
- Rates, Fees & Costs
- Mortgage Calculators
Each section has a variety of sub-headings with detailed information that delivers as much information that a person can possibly handle – probably too much.
The amount of information offered does have the potential to overwhelm someone, and, afterwards, the rather simple form the Citibank website offers, in order to begin the mortgage application process, becomes quite appealing to users who may be confused and frustrated by the complicated nature of finance.
This makes it more likely for the user to utilize Citibank’s mortgage consultation process – a clever method indeed.
Rates and Fees
Citibank is one of the few lenders that will pre-approve customers for a loan, as opposed to most who will pre-qualify prospective homeowners. This is advantageous for those in competitive housing markets where sellers are likely to get multiple offers on a house. In such a scenario, Citibank giving pre-approval can be useful in securing your top-choice home. However, the tradeoff is that Citibank charges an application fee.
Despite charging an application fee, many of the other fees Citibank charges during mortgage proceedings are comparable with other lenders, if not below average – a fact mentioned in many positive Citibank mortgage reviews.
In terms of rates on mortgages, CitiMortgage reviews from a variety of sources indicate that its rates are competitive and comparable to other lenders. As expected, Citibank’s website lists its base-level rates, which are 3.5% on a 30-year fixed mortgage and 3.125% on a 15-year fixed mortgage.
Of course, these rates are calculated by assuming that many of the variables that will impact mortgage rates are all well and good, such as the buyer’s credit score. Obviously, this is not always the case with homebuyers, so one should not expect to get these exact rates when applying for a mortgage, which could be seen as misleading.
The Citibank website does offer a “Mortgage Calculator,” which enables users to calculate their monthly payments, how much they can afford to spend on a home or how much they can save with additional payments based on their specific situation. This is a helpful tool that stands out in many CitiMortgage reviews and one that may not be offered by some of Citibank’s competitors, putting it a step ahead of the rest.
It’s hard to deny that Citibank provides a great deal of information and tools for prospective homebuyers on its website and also that it makes starting the process of getting a mortgage as simple and easy as possible.
However, this only speaks to the early stages, as well as the pre-stages, of seeking a mortgage. It’s important to read through a substantial amount of Citibank mortgage reviews in order to get a sense of the entire process. Unfortunately, CitiMortgage reviews on a variety of both credit and customer review sites are quite negative.
A majority of the Citibank mortgage reviews on this well-known site described Citibank as misleading, with many expressing frustration at the bank’s representatives not getting back to them in a timely manner.
Many CitiMortgage complaints revolved around the length of the process, which means that patience may be a necessary trait when dealing with Citibank. Several CitiMortgage reviews also mentioned hidden fees they were charged, sometimes just for making an inquiry. This is certainly something to be wary of if you choose Citibank, although being on alert for hidden fees is good advice when dealing with any financial institution.
This is another well-known site for determining customer satisfaction, although one that is not primarily focused on the finance and banking industry like CreditKarma.
This site is also littered with negative CitiMortgage reviews. Many of the CitiMortgage complaints come from customers several years into their mortgages, accusing the bank of being unhelpful when problems arise.
This reinforces the need to develop a trusting relationship with your lender from the start, and, clearly, there are some people who were unable to do that with Citibank.
There are also several Citibank mortgage reviews from homebuyers who recently sought a mortgage from Citibank and found the process to be slow and frustrating, reinforcing the thoughts from several CitiMortgage reviews found on CreditKarma.
These CitiMortgage complaints cited difficulties in speaking to the right representative as well as a lack of competency from those performing work on the bank’s behalf. One would assume an organization as large as Citibank would have the best and brightest working for it; however, these CitiMortgage complaints indicate that’s not always the case.
Grain of Salt
Despite bad reviews, it’s important to read Citibank mortgage reviews and CitiMortgage complaints with a grain of salt. Happy homeowners who got their mortgage through Citibank will not be rushing to write glowing reviews whereas those who had a bad experience will be inspired to warn others against similar situations.
Many mystery shopper organizations have given positive reviews to the experience of getting a mortgage from Citibank, backing up the usefulness of the website as well as the fairness of the rates. The large amount of CitiMortgage complaints and negative Citibank mortgage reviews should not be ignored, but they should not be the only factor considered when deciding on a mortgage lender.
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Is a Citibank Mortgage Right for You?
When seeking a mortgage, it’s hard to say which bank is right for you; there are so many factors that go into making such an important decision. That being said, in most instances, Citibank is not a bad choice.
The bank’s website offers a wealth of information to help you along and make the right choices with regard to your mortgage. If you’re unsure about where to go or what to do when seeking a mortgage, there’s no denying that Citibank is an excellent resource and a good place to get started.
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