When you are offered a "rate lock" from the lender, it means that you are guaranteed to get a specific interest rate over a determined period for the application process. This means your interest rate cannot rise during the application process.
Rate lock periods can be various lengths of time, between fifteen to sixty days, with the longer ones generally costing more. The lending institution can agree to lock in an interest rate and points for a longer period, say 60 days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be higher than that of a rate lock of a shorter period.
There are other ways to get a low rate, besides going with a shorter rate lock period. A bigger down payment will give you a lower interest rate, because you will be starting out with more equity. You can pay points to improve your rate over the loan term, meaning you pay more initially. To a lot of people, this is a good option..
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