A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a lender's promise to set a particular interest rate and a certain number of points for you for a certain period of time while your application is processed. This ensures that your interest rate cannot rise as you are going through the application process.
Rate lock periods can be various lengths of time, between 15 to 60 days, with the longer spans typically costing more. The lender will agree to freeze an interest rate and points for a longer period, such as sixty days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be higher than that of a rate lock of fewer days.
In addition to choosing a shorter lock period, there are several ways you can attain the best rate. A bigger down payment will get you a better interest rate, because you will be starting out with a good deal of equity. You can pay points to lower your interest rate for the life of the loan, meaning you pay more initially. To many people, this makes financial sense..
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