A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a lender's promise to freeze a particular interest rate and a particular number of points for you for a specified period during your application process. This saves you from getting through your entire application process and finding out at the end that your interest rate has gotten higher.
Although there are various lengths of rate lock periods (from 15 to 60 days), the extended spans are typically more expensive. A lending institution may agree to freeze an interest rate and points for a longer period, like 60 days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be higher than with a rate lock of fewer days.
In addition to opting for a shorter rate lock period, there are more ways you can score the best rate. A bigger down payment will result in a better interest rate, because you will have a good amount of equity from the beginning. You could choose to pay points to improve your rate for the loan term, meaning you pay more initially. One strategy that is a good option for many people is to pay points to improve the rate over the life of the loan. You'll pay more initially, but you'll come out ahead in the long run.
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