When you're promised a "rate lock" from the lender, it means that you are guaranteed to get a set interest rate for a determined period while you work on your application process. This prevents you from getting through your entire application process and finding out at the end that your interest rate has gotten higher.
Although there are several lengths of rate lock periods (from 15 to 60 days), the longer spans are typically more expensive. The lender can agree to freeze an interest rate and points for a longer span of time, like sixty days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be higher than with a rate lock of a shorter period.
In addition to choosing a shorter rate lock period, there are more ways you are able to attain the best rate. The bigger down payment you can make, the better your interest rate will be, because you will be entering the loan with more equity. You can pay points to improve your rate over the life of the loan, 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 initially, but you'll save money in the long run.
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