A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a lender's promise to lock in a certain interest rate and a certain number of points for you for a specified period of time while your application is processed. This protects you from going through your whole application process and discovering at the end that your interest rate has gotten higher.
While there are various lengths of rate lock periods (from 15 to 60 days), the extended ones are typically more expensive. A lending institution may agree to hold an interest rate and points for a longer span of time, such as sixty days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be higher than with a rate lock of fewer days.
In addition to choosing a shorter rate lock period, there are other ways you can attain the lowest rate. The bigger down payment you pay, the smaller your rate will be, because you will be starting with more equity. You could opt to pay points to improve your rate over the loan term, meaning you pay more up front. One strategy that is a good option for some is to pay points to bring the rate down over the term of the loan. You'll pay more up front, but you will save money, especially if you keep the loan for the full term.
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