A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a promise from the lender to hold a certain interest rate and a particular number of points for you for a specified period while your application is processed. This means your interest rate will not grow while you are going through the application process.
Rate lock periods can vary in length, anywhere from 15 to 60 days, with the longer period generally costing more. The lender will agree to hold an interest rate and points for a longer span of time, say 60 days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be more than with a rate lock of fewer days.
In addition to choosing a shorter lock period, there are other ways you can get the lowest rate. The more the down payment, the lower your interest rate will be, as you will have more equity from the beginning. You might opt to pay points to reduce your rate for the term of the loan, meaning you pay more initially. To a lot of people, this makes financial sense..
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