When you're promised a "rate lock" from your lender, it means that you are guaranteed to keep a particular interest rate for a determined period while you work on the application process. This keeps you from getting through your entire application process and finding out 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 typically costing more. A lending institution may agree to hold 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 a shorter period.
There are other ways to get a better rate, in addition to opting for a shorter rate lock period. The bigger down payment you pay, the smaller the interest rate will be, as you will be starting with more equity. You can pay points to lower your rate over the loan term, meaning you pay more initially. For many people, this makes financial sense..
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