When you are offered a "rate lock" from the lender, it means that you are guaranteed to get a specific interest rate over a certain number of days for the application process. This ensures that your interest rate can't get higher while you are going through the application process.
Although there are several lengths of rate lock periods (from 15 to 60 days), the extended spans are typically more expensive. The lender will agree to hold an interest rate and points for a longer period, such as 60 days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be higher than that of a rate lock of fewer days.
There are other ways to get a reduced rate, besides choosing a shorter rate lock period. The larger the down payment, the smaller your rate will be, as you will be starting with more equity. You can pay points to bring down your interest rate over the loan term, meaning you pay more initially. One strategy that is a good option for many people is to pay points to bring the rate down over the life of the loan. You will pay more up front, but you'll come out ahead, especially if you don't refinance early.
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