A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a promise from the lender to freeze a particular interest rate and a specific number of points for you for a certain period of time during your application process. This protects you from getting through your entire application process and discovering at the end that the interest rate has gone up.
Rate lock periods can be various lengths of time, between fifteen to sixty days, with the longer ones typically costing more. You can get a longer period for your lock, but in choosing this option, will probably have a higher interest rate than you would have with a shorter rate lock span of time
There are other ways to get a reduced rate, besides going with a shorter rate lock period. A larger down payment will get you a better interest rate, since you will have a good deal of equity at the start. You can pay points to improve your rate over the life of the loan, meaning you pay more initially. One strategy that is a good option for many people is to pay points to bring the rate down over the term of the loan. You'll pay more up front, but you'll save money, especially if you keep the loan for the full term.
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