A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a lender's promise to lock in a certain interest rate and a specific number of points for you for a certain period of time while your application is processed. This saves you from working through your whole application process and discovering at the end that the interest rate has risen 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 rate than you would with a shorter rate lock span of time
In addition to choosing a shorter rate lock period, there are more ways you can score the best rate. The larger down payment you pay, the better your interest rate will be, since you will be starting with more equity. You could choose to pay points to reduce your rate for the life of the loan, meaning you pay more initially. One strategy that makes financial sense for some is to pay points to bring the rate down over the life of the loan. You pay more up front, but you will come out ahead in the end.
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