When you are promised a "rate lock" from the lender, it means that you are guaranteed to keep a set interest rate for a certain number of days for your application process. This ensures that your interest rate can't get higher during the application process.
Rate lock periods can be various lengths of time, between fifteen to sixty days, with the longer ones typically costing more. The lending institution will agree to freeze an interest rate and points for a longer span of time, say 60 days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be higher than with a rate lock of fewer days.
In addition to going with a shorter lock period, there are other ways you can attain the best rate. The bigger the down payment, the better your rate will be, since you will be starting with more equity. You could choose to pay points to bring down your rate for the term of the loan, meaning you pay more up front. To a lot of people, this is a good option..
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