A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a lender's promise to set a certain interest rate and a specific number of points for you for a specified period of time during your application process. This ensures that your interest rate can't get higher while you are going through the application process.
Rate lock periods can vary in length, between 15 to 60 days, with the longer period generally costing more. The lender can agree to lock in an interest rate and points for a longer span of time, say 60 days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be more than with a rate lock of fewer days.
There are other ways to get a reduced rate, besides going with a shorter rate lock period. The bigger down payment you can pay, the better your rate will be, because you will have more equity from the beginning. You could choose to pay points to reduce your rate for the loan term, meaning you pay more up front. To a lot of people, this makes sense and is a good deal..
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