A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a lender's promise to set a particular interest rate and a certain number of points for you for a certain period of time while your application is processed. This prevents you from getting through your whole application process and finding out at the end that your interest rate has gone up.
While there may be a choice of rate lock periods (from 15 to 60 days), the extended spans are typically more expensive. You can get a longer period for your lock, but in making this choice, will most likely have a higher rate than you would have with a shorter span of time
There are other ways to get a reduced rate, in addition to agreeing to a shorter rate lock period. A bigger down payment will result in a better interest rate, because you're starting out with more equity. You can pay points to improve your rate for the loan term, meaning you pay more up front. One strategy that makes financial sense for some is to pay points to reduce the rate over the term of the loan. You'll pay more up front, but you'll come out ahead in the end.
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