A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a lender's promise to freeze a specific 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 will not get higher during the application process.
Rate lock periods can vary in length, between fifteen to sixty days, with the longer ones generally costing more. The lender may agree to freeze an interest rate and points for a longer period, say 60 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, besides opting for a shorter rate lock period. The more the down payment, the smaller the rate will be, because you will be starting with more equity. You can pay points to improve your rate over the term of the loan, meaning you pay more up front. For many people, this makes financial sense..
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