When you are promised a "rate lock" from a lender, it means that you are guaranteed to keep a set interest rate over a determined period while you work on the application process. This means your interest rate won't go up as you are working through the application process.
Although there are several lengths of rate lock periods (from 15 to 60 days), the extended ones are generally more expensive. You can get a longer period for your lock, but in choosing this option, will probably have a higher rate than you would with a shorter rate lock period
There are other ways to get a better rate, in addition to choosing a shorter rate lock period. A bigger down payment will give you a reduced interest rate, because you're starting out with a good deal of equity. You could choose to pay points to lower 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 life of the loan. You'll pay more initially, but you'll come out ahead in the long run.
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