When you are offered a "rate lock" from a lender, it means that you are guaranteed to get a certain interest rate for a certain number of days for your application process. This ensures that your interest rate can't rise during the application process.
Rate lock periods can vary in length, between fifteen to sixty days, with the longer ones usually costing more. The lending institution can agree to lock in an interest rate and points for a longer span of time, such as 60 days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be more than with a rate lock of a shorter period.
In addition to choosing a shorter rate lock period, there are more ways you may be able to get the lowest rate. The more the down payment, the smaller the rate will be, as you will be starting with more equity. You could opt to pay points to lower your interest rate for the loan term, meaning you pay more up front. One strategy that is a good option for some is to pay points to improve the rate over the life of the loan. You'll pay more initially, but you'll save money in the long run.
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