When you're promised a "rate lock" from a lender, it means that you are guaranteed to keep a certain interest rate for a determined period while you work on the application process. This ensures that your interest rate will not go up during the application process.
While there may be a choice of rate lock periods (from 15 to 60 days), the longer ones are usually more expensive. A lending institution will agree to hold an interest rate and points for a longer span of time, 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 more ways to get a better rate, besides choosing a shorter rate lock period. A larger down payment will get you a better interest rate, because you are starting out with more equity. You can pay points to lower your rate for the life of the loan, meaning you pay more up front. To many people, this makes sense and is a good deal..
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