A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a lender's promise to lock in a particular interest rate and a particular number of points for you for a specified period while your application is processed. This saves you from working through your entire application process and discovering at the end that the interest rate has gone up.
Rate lock periods can be various lengths of time, between 15 to 60 days, with the longer ones generally costing more. A lender may agree to lock in 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 that of a rate lock of fewer days.
In addition to choosing a shorter rate lock period, there are other ways you can get the lowest rate. A larger down payment will result in a reduced interest rate, because you'll have a good amount of equity at the start. You might choose to pay points to lower your rate over the loan term, meaning you pay more initially. One strategy that makes financial sense for many people is to pay points to improve the interest rate over the life of the loan. You will pay more up front, but you'll come out ahead in the end.
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