A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a lender's promise to hold a particular interest rate and a particular number of points for you for a specified period of time during your application process. This means your interest rate can't rise while you are working through the application process.
Although there are several lengths of rate lock periods (from 15 to 60 days), the extended spans are usually more expensive. The lender will agree to hold an interest rate and points for a longer span of time, like sixty days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be more than that of a rate lock of fewer days.
There are more ways to get a low rate, in addition to opting for a shorter rate lock period. A larger down payment will get you a reduced interest rate, since you're starting out with a good deal of equity. You might choose to pay points to lower your rate over the loan term, meaning you pay more up front. One strategy that makes financial sense for some is to pay points to bring the rate down over the life of the loan. You are paying more up front, but you'll come out ahead, especially if you don't refinance early.
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