Warning: this is a long post. If you just want to get my quick review on Citibank Mortgage, just skip to the last paragraph. If you want to hear my personal story, keep reading.
When rates dropped a few years ago, we refinanced our old house to a 15 year mortgage. It was sold to Citi Mortgage, and I’ve had no problems with them throughout that process. Now that rates have dropped again, to ridiculous levels, they sent me a letter in the mail to refinance with them to get a better rate. Since that house is now our rental property, I was debating on refinancing again anyway. We’ve been paying in addition to what the rent brings in to pay the mortgage for two years now. I wanted to refinance so we don’t have to pay that extra amount anymore. I want our renters to cover the entire mortgage payment.
So I gave them a call, and everything seemed great. The person on the phone was helpful, and even gave me her direct line. She explained the terms to me, and somewhere along the lines I told her it was a rental. She told me that changes the terms, and gave me the terms that would apply to the rental. The interest rate was a little higher, but was still lower than our current rate. So I told her we wanted to go ahead and do it, and she told me that my credit card would be charged $415.50 for the appraisal.
This is where the problems started. I checked my credit card statement a few days later, and noticed a charge from Citi for $600.50. Come to find out, they charge more for the appraisal for rental properties, too. When she mentioned the appraisal, she forgot to quote me the rental property price. I figured I could just deal with that toward closing.
They sent me the first breakdown of costs (the HUD statement). I reviewed it, and since I’ve been through a few of these in the past, one number stood out to me. They estimated $1900 for the title fees! That’s more than you should pay for a complete refinance! But they had paperwork that I could fill out to choose my own title company, so I did that. The title company I chose was one I used in the past, and had a total cost of $475 (plus, they were local, which is a HUGE plus).
I started the refinance process in January, and they had a 90 day rate lock. I wasn’t in a rush to refi, so I was fine with waiting. They told me it would take a while, and could take all the way up to the 90 days. I’ve been through a few refinances in the past, and none have taken much longer than a month, if that. But like I said, I wasn’t in a rush.
I’ll cut to the chase. The loan processor was incompetent of doing her job. She took forever to get back with me when I emailed her with a question, if she wrote back at all. She asked for partial information that she needed, then added more to it after I sent her what she requested. She never confirmed that she received anything. The 90 days went by, and she emailed me stating that my loan had been cancelled due to lack of response on my end. I was so upset that I didn’t even respond to her, but called the sales person instead. That’s the short version. The bottom line – this loan processor was simply incompetent at their job, and should be fired.
At this point, I should have just asked for my incorrectly charged $600 back, but they offered to give me $200 back to cover the difference in the quote, and would open the loan back up with the same terms and put a rush on it. I talked to the salesperson’s boss, who was also very helpful. He told me that he wasn’t sure if they could get it closed in two weeks, but it should be shortly thereafter. He was going to put a rush on it, and was definitely not going to use the same underwriter. I figured I’d give them a second chance, because their sales team was responsible. I figured the chances of me getting another company to use the existing appraisal was probably slim to none, and I didn’t want to be out $600 that I didn’t ever agree to in the first place.
So I figured I had a bad underwriter on the loan, and it would go better this time. Unfortunately that was not the case. It took a month and a half to close, and that’s only after I started emailing the loan processor and both sales people every day trying to find out the status.
The original title company called me asking for some more detail. I told them I wasn’t sure why they were calling, because I wasn’t going with them. They asked why, and I told them I’ve never paid more than 1/3 of what they were trying to collect in closing fees. I contacted the person who was working on my loan to make sure they were aware that I was using a different title company. Of course, I got no response to my email.
Finally, I got a closing date! They assigned a new person to close on my loan, and she emailed me the final closing documents. She did state that the loan was to be closed at the company I requested. I reviewed them, and noticed that they increased the appraisal again to be $729.50 (remember when they quoted me $415.50?). That’s almost DOUBLE what they originally quoted me. Can you say bait and switch? I guess they figure nobody will ever look at the details of what they are paying on a mortgage (people really aren’t that dumb, right?).
So I immediately emailed her back, and asked her what was up with that amount. She never wrote back. I went to the closing, and nobody from Citi was there. No surprise there. I kind of gave a quick rundown to the person at the title company of the situation, and she was shocked that this whole process started in January (it’s now June 25, and I just closed today). After I told her about the incorrect charge for the appraisal, she immediately called the person who was supposed to be dealing with my “closing” from Citi, but got her voicemail. She emailed her as well, and tried calling back several times, with no response. She called the sales person as well, and no answer there either. She even tried contacting anybody from Citi during the closing, and couldn’t get through to anybody.
At this point, I was ready to be done with Citi. I didn’t want to schedule another closing date to where I’d have to take off time from work to attend, so I signed the paperwork. It was still a good deal, but they got me for $129 more than I agreed to (so far). I contacted the sales person’s boss who was helpful before, but he gave me some bogus rundown of how it works out. After I got off the phone, I looked into it more, and emailed him with all the numbers. They should be writing me a check for $129, but we’ll see what he says. I told him I’d give him until tomorrow night, then I’ll be in touch with the Better Business Bureau. I’ll add a comment with what I find out, in case you’re interested.
Edit: He wrote me back, stating that they are not going to issue a refund. I decided it’s not worth filing the complaint against the BBB, which I’m sure is what they were banking on. I’m just glad this whole experience is over, and hope this post can help stop someone else from making my mistake. They finally wore me down, and won on the $129, but I did a pretty good job of getting a good deal out of the whole thing overall.
If you are looking at refinancing with Citibank Mortgage, DON’T DO IT! Stay as far away as you can, even though they seem like a reputable company up front. They will NOT close on your loan in a timely fashion, and will try to sneak charges in on you. When you have any questions for them, they will completely ignore you. Completely unethical company. Go with someone local instead. That way, if they start ignoring you, you can simply visit their office. That face-to-face option typically makes companies more reputable.