A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a lender's promise to set a specific interest rate and a certain number of points for you for a specified period during your application process. This keeps you from going through your whole application process and finding out at the end that your interest rate has gotten higher.
Rate lock periods can be various lengths of time, between fifteen to sixty days, with the longer period generally costing more. A lender can agree to freeze an interest rate and points for a longer span of time, such as 60 days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be higher than that of a rate lock of fewer days.
There are more ways to get a reduced rate, besides going with a shorter rate lock period. The bigger down payment you pay, the better the interest rate will be, since you will have more equity from the beginning. You could choose to pay points to reduce your interest rate for the term of the loan, meaning you pay more up front. To many people, this is a good option..
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