A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a lender's promise to freeze a certain interest rate and a specific number of points for you for a certain period while your application is processed. This keeps you from going through your entire application process and discovering at the end that the interest rate has risen higher.
Although there are various lengths of rate lock periods (from 15 to 60 days), the extended spans are generally more expensive. The lending institution may agree to freeze an interest rate and points for a longer period, such as sixty days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be higher than that of a rate lock of a shorter period.
In addition to going with the shorter rate lock period, there are several ways you can score the lowest rate. A bigger down payment will give you a reduced interest rate, because you'll have a good deal of equity from the beginning. You might opt to pay points to improve your interest rate over the life of the loan, meaning you pay more initially. For many people, this makes financial sense..
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