A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a promise from the lender to set a particular interest rate and a certain number of points for you for a certain period during your application process. This keeps you from getting through your whole application process and learning at the end that the interest rate has gotten higher.
Rate lock periods can vary in length, between 15 to 60 days, with the longer period generally costing more. You can get a longer period for your lock, but in making this choice, will likely have a higher interest rate than you would have with a shorter span of time
There are other ways to get a lower rate, besides opting for a shorter rate lock period. A bigger down payment will get you a better interest rate, since you will have more equity from the beginning. You can pay points to bring down your interest rate for the life of the loan, meaning you pay more up front. One strategy that makes financial sense for some is to pay points to reduce the interest rate over the term of the loan. You are paying more up front, but you will save money in the end.
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