When you're promised a "rate lock" from the lender, it means that you are guaranteed to get a specific interest rate over a certain number of days while you work on the application process. This ensures that your interest rate won't go up while you are going through the application process.
Rate lock periods can vary in length, anywhere from 15 to 60 days, with the longer spans generally costing more. A lending institution may agree to hold an interest rate and points for a longer period, like sixty days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be higher than that of a rate lock of a shorter period.
There are more ways to get a lower rate, in addition to opting for a shorter rate lock period. The larger down payment you can pay, the better your interest rate will be, because you will be starting with more equity. You could opt to pay points to reduce 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 improve the rate over the life of the loan. You pay more up front, but you will save money, especially if you keep the loan for a long time.
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