A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a lender's promise to freeze a specific interest rate and a specific number of points for you for a specified period while your application is processed. This saves you from going through your whole application process and learning at the end that your interest rate has risen higher.
Rate lock periods can be various lengths of time, anywhere from fifteen to sixty days, with the longer period usually costing more. A lending institution can agree to lock in an interest rate and points for a longer span of time, such as 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 opting for the shorter lock period, there are more ways you can score the lowest rate. The bigger the down payment, the better your rate will be, as you will be entering the loan with more equity. You could opt to pay points to improve your rate over the loan term, meaning you pay more initially. To many people, this makes sense and is a good deal..
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