BMO Harris Bank: 2022 Home Equity Review

If you're looking for a home equity loan or HELOC and have a solid credit score, this bank offers competitive rates.

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BMO Harris Bank

Founded in Canada, BMO Harris Bank now serves customers throughout North America. It offers personal banking services, wealth management and business banking. Though it doesn't rank as one of the 10 biggest banks in the US, BMO Harris Bank has over 500 branches in Illinois, Indiana, Arizona, Missouri, Minnesota, Kansas, Florida and Wisconsin.

BMO Harris offers savings and checking accounts, personal loans as well as home equity loans and lines of credit. They're all available online, through the company's mobile app and in person at its branches.

BMO Harris Bank: At a glance


Home equity line of credit Home equity loan
APR range Starting at 6.44% APR, with lower rates available on some introductory offers Starting at 7.19% APR
Loan amounts N/A N/A
Credit score minimum 650  700
Repayment terms 20 years 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years
Average time for approval N/A N/A

BMO Harris Bank's home equity products are best suited to residents of the states it serves who also have high credit scores. Applicants with average to low credit scores may find less to like. Here's an overview of the major pros and cons:

What we like

  • Fees are covered: As long as you keep your loan or line of credit open for at least 36 months, the financial institution will cover most of the closing costs and fees associated with opening the account. 
  • Multiple ways to save: On top of covering a lot of the fees, BMO has an autopay discount available and introductory offers available for its lowest HELOC rate. There are a variety of ways that customers can cut costs on their loan or line of credit.

What we don't like

  • No options for lower credit scores: BMO Harris Bank's home equity products cater to customers with good credit scores (650 and up). If you have a lower score, you may not qualify. 
  • Property must be owner-occupied: Both the HELOC and home equity loan require that you live at the property full time; you can't apply for one of these products using an investment property or second home. 
  • Many states without branches: Though BMO Harris has over 500 branches, they are spread throughout just eight states: Illinois, Indiana, Arizona, Missouri, Minnesota, Kansas, Florida and Wisconsin). You can still apply for a loan from the company over the phone or online if you live in another state, however. 

Home equity loan product options

BMO Harris Bank offers both a home equity line of credit, or HELOC, and home equity loan. Going the HELOC route means having a fixed limit on your credit line, but you only draw down what you need. And you can pay down your balance and borrow multiple times. BMO Harris Bank's offers both a fixed-rate and variable-rate HELOC: Variable rates start at 6.44% APR, and fixed rates start at 7.29% APR. 

The bank's home equity loans work differently -- more like a second mortgage that draws on your home equity as collateral. The home equity loans have a fixed interest rate currently starting at 7.19% APR. You get all of the money you borrow at once and make monthly payments over your repayment period until you pay back the loan. There are five-, 10-, 15- and 20-year term options. 

Fees

For both HELOCs and home equity loans for an owner-occupied property that's accommodating up to four families, BMO Harris Bank will cover most closing costs including the appraisal, credit report, flood determination, title insurance and taxes. 

There are a few fees you'll need to pay, though. A HELOC will include a $75 annual fee for the first nine years your account is open. For both HELOCs and home equity loans, you may be required to pay a closing cost recoupment fee if you close your account in less than 36 months. And you may be on the hook for any real estate taxes or any prior lien release fees, if applicable.

How to qualify

For both HELOCs and home equity loans, BMO Harris will require information about your income, debt, home equity and credit history. Though it doesn't provide specifics on all of the requirements, the bank discloses the credit score minimum: You'll need at least a 700 to qualify for one of its home equity loans. The threshold for a HELOC is lower, but not by much -- at least 650. 

One major requirement is that you live at the property. Second homes and investment properties don't qualify for HELOCs or home equity loans from BMO Harris Bank. 

Getting started

You can apply online, by phone or in person. However you apply, you'll be asked for some basic information including your name, social security number, income, property address and the value of the home. Once you've provided all the necessary documentation, a BMO Harris Bank representative will process your application and let you know whether you've been approved or denied. If you're approved, you will receive a letter detailing the terms and rates, and a representative will contact you to schedule your closing. 

Customer service

There are a few different ways to get in touch with customer service at BMO Harris Bank. It recommends using its online Contact Us form for the fastest service. But you can also reach out by phone or visit your local branch to get help. 

Customer service agents are available by phone 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. If you're in the US, call 1-888-340-2265; if you're outside of the US, call 1-847-238-2265.