A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a lender's promise to freeze a specific interest rate and a certain number of points for you for a specified period while your application is processed. This means your interest rate will not rise while you are going through the application process.
Although there can be a choice of rate lock periods (from 15 to 60 days), the extended spans are generally more expensive. A lender will agree to freeze an interest rate and points for a longer span of time, say sixty days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be higher than with a rate lock of fewer days.
In addition to choosing a shorter rate lock period, there are several ways you may be able to get the lowest rate. A bigger down payment will give you a reduced interest rate, since you will have a good deal of equity at the start. You can pay points to improve your rate for the life of the loan, meaning you pay more up front. To many people, this makes sense and is a good deal..
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