A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a lender's promise to set a particular interest rate and a specific number of points for you for a specified period of time while your application is processed. This prevents you from going through your whole application process and finding out at the end that the interest rate has risen higher.
While there are several lengths of rate lock periods (from 15 to 60 days), the extended spans are usually more expensive. A lender can agree to hold an interest rate and points for a longer span of time, such as sixty days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be more than with a rate lock of a shorter period.
In addition to going with a shorter lock period, there are other ways you can attain the lowest rate. The bigger down payment you can make, the better the interest rate will be, because you will be entering the loan with more equity. You might choose to pay points to bring down your rate for the life of the loan, meaning you pay more initially. To many people, this makes sense and is a good deal..
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