When you are promised a "rate lock" from a lender, it means that you are guaranteed to keep a specific interest rate for a determined period while you work on your application process. This saves you from getting through your whole application process and finding out at the end that the interest rate has risen higher.
While there are several lengths of rate lock periods (from 15 to 60 days), the longer ones are generally more expensive. A lending institution will agree to lock in an interest rate and points for a longer span of time, say sixty days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be more than with a rate lock of fewer days.
There are more ways to get a reduced rate, in addition to going with a shorter rate lock period. The larger down payment you pay, the lower your rate will be, as you will be entering the loan with more equity. You can pay points to reduce your interest rate for the loan term, meaning you pay more up front. To a lot of people, this makes financial sense..
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