When you're promised a "rate lock" from the lender, it means that you are guaranteed to get a particular interest rate for a certain number of days while you work on your application process. This ensures that your interest rate will not get higher while you are going through the application process.
Rate lock periods can be various lengths of time, anywhere from fifteen to sixty days, with the longer period typically costing more. The lending institution will agree to lock in an interest rate and points for a longer span of time, such as 60 days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be more than with a rate lock of fewer days.
There are other ways to get a lower rate, in addition to opting for a shorter rate lock period. The more the down payment, the better your rate will be, since you will be entering the loan with more equity. You can pay points to reduce your rate over the term of the loan, meaning you pay more up front. One strategy that makes financial sense for many people is to pay points to improve the rate over the term of the loan. You will pay more initially, but you will save money, especially if you keep the loan for a long time.
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