When you are promised a "rate lock" from a lender, it means that you are guaranteed to keep a particular interest rate over a determined period while you work on your application process. This saves you from working through your entire application process and finding out at the end that your interest rate has gotten higher.
Rate lock periods can vary in length, between fifteen to sixty days, with the longer spans usually costing more. A lending institution will agree to lock in 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 that of a rate lock of a shorter period.
In addition to going with a shorter lock period, there are other ways you are able to attain the best rate. The bigger down payment you pay, the lower your rate will be, as you will have more equity from the start. You could choose to pay points to improve your rate for the term of the loan, meaning you pay more initially. One strategy that makes financial sense for many people is to pay points to bring the rate down over the term of the loan. You'll pay more initially, but you'll come out ahead, especially if you keep the loan for the full term.
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