A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a lender's promise to lock in a certain interest rate and a certain number of points for you for a specified period during your application process. This ensures that your interest rate will not get higher during the application process.
Rate lock periods can vary in length, anywhere from 15 to 60 days, with the longer spans typically costing more. The lending institution can agree to lock in an interest rate and points for a longer span of time, like sixty days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be more than with a rate lock of fewer days.
In addition to going with a shorter lock period, there are other ways you can score the best rate. The larger down payment you make, the lower your interest rate will be, since you will have more equity from the beginning. You can pay points to bring down your rate over the loan term, meaning you pay more initially. One strategy that makes financial sense for some is to pay points to bring the rate down over the term of the loan. You are paying more up front, but you will come out ahead in the end.
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