A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a promise from the lender to lock in a particular interest rate and a certain number of points for you for a specified period of time while your application is processed. This saves you from going through your entire application process and finding out at the end that your interest rate has gone up.
Although there are various lengths of rate lock periods (from 15 to 60 days), the extended spans are generally more expensive. A lender will agree to hold an interest rate and points for a longer period, say 60 days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be higher than that of a rate lock of fewer days.
In addition to choosing the shorter lock period, there are several ways you are able to attain the lowest rate. A larger down payment will result in a lower interest rate, because you'll have more equity from the beginning. You can pay points to lower your rate over the loan term, meaning you pay more initially. For many people, this is a good option..
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