When you are promised a "rate lock" from a lender, it means that you are guaranteed to get a set interest rate for a certain number of days while you work on the application process. This means your interest rate can't grow as you are going through the application process.
While there may be a choice of rate lock periods (from 15 to 60 days), the extended spans are typically more expensive. A lender will agree to hold an interest rate and points for a longer period, such as sixty 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 lower rate, besides opting for a shorter rate lock period. The bigger the down payment, the lower your interest rate will be, as you will have more equity from the start. You can pay points to lower your interest rate over the loan term, meaning you pay more initially. One strategy that makes financial sense for many people is to pay points to improve the interest rate over the term of the loan. You'll pay more up front, but you will come out ahead, especially if you keep the loan for a long time.
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