When you're promised a "rate lock" from a lender, it means that you are guaranteed to keep a particular interest rate for a certain number of days while you work on the application process. This prevents you from going through your entire application process and discovering at the end that your interest rate has gone up.
Rate lock periods can vary in length, anywhere from 15 to 60 days, with the longer spans generally costing more. A lending institution will agree to freeze an interest rate and points for a longer period, like sixty days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be more than with a rate lock of fewer days.
There are more ways to get a low rate, in addition to choosing a shorter rate lock period. A bigger down payment will give you a lower interest rate, since you will be starting out with a good deal of equity. You can pay points to bring down your interest rate over the life of the loan, meaning you pay more up front. To a lot of people, this makes financial sense..
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