A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a promise from the lender to freeze a particular interest rate and a particular number of points for you for a specified period while your application is processed. This saves you from going through your entire application process and discovering at the end that the interest rate has gotten higher.
While there are several lengths of rate lock periods (from 15 to 60 days), the longer spans are usually more expensive. You can get a longer period for your lock, but in choosing this option, will probably have a higher rate than you would have with a shorter rate lock span of time
There are other ways to get a better rate, in addition to agreeing to a shorter rate lock period. The larger down payment you make, the better the interest rate will be, as you will be entering the loan with more equity. You could choose to pay points to improve your rate over the loan term, meaning you pay more up front. One strategy that is a good option for some is to pay points to improve the interest rate over the life of the loan. You pay more initially, but you'll come out ahead, especially if you don't refinance early.
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