When you are promised a "rate lock" from your lender, it means that you are guaranteed to get a certain interest rate over a certain number of days while you work on the application process. This means your interest rate will not grow during the application process.
Rate lock periods can be various lengths of time, between fifteen to sixty days, with the longer spans typically costing more. A lending institution may agree to freeze 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 with a rate lock of fewer days.
In addition to opting for a shorter lock period, there are more ways you may be able to attain the best rate. The bigger down payment you can make, the lower your rate will be, since you will be entering the loan with more equity. You can pay points to reduce your interest rate over the loan term, meaning you pay more initially. One strategy that is a good option for many people is to pay points to reduce the rate over the life of the loan. You'll pay more initially, but you will save money in the end.
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