A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a promise from the lender to hold a particular interest rate and a certain number of points for you for a specified period of time while your application is processed. This saves you from going through your whole application process and finding out at the end that your interest rate has gotten higher.
Rate lock periods can be various lengths of time, between fifteen to sixty days, with the longer spans generally costing more. The lender may agree to hold an interest rate and points for a longer span of time, say 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 opting for a shorter lock period, there are other ways you can score the lowest rate. The larger the down payment, the better your rate will be, since you will be starting with more equity. You may choose to pay points to lower your rate for the term of the loan, meaning you pay more initially. For a lot of people, this makes sense and is a good deal..
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