When you're offered a "rate lock" from your lender, it means that you are guaranteed to get a set interest rate over a certain number of days for your application process. This keeps you from working through your entire application process and finding out at the end that the interest rate has risen higher.
Rate lock periods can vary in length, anywhere from 15 to 60 days, with the longer period typically costing more. A lending institution will agree to hold an interest rate and points for a longer span of time, say sixty days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be more than that of a rate lock of fewer days.
In addition to opting for a shorter lock period, there are other ways you can score the best rate. The larger down payment you pay, the smaller your rate will be, because you will be starting with more equity. You may opt to pay points to reduce your rate over the term of the loan, meaning you pay more initially. To a lot of people, this makes financial sense..
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