A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a promise from the lender to freeze a certain interest rate and a certain number of points for you for a specified period of time while your application is processed. This keeps you from working through your whole application process and learning at the end that the interest rate has risen higher.
Although there are various lengths of rate lock periods (from 15 to 60 days), the extended spans are generally more expensive. A lender will 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 more than that of a rate lock of fewer days.
There are other ways to get a low rate, besides going with a shorter rate lock period. A bigger down payment will give you a lower interest rate, because you'll have a good amount of equity at the start. You could choose to pay points to reduce your interest rate over the term of the loan, meaning you pay more up front. To many people, this is a good option..
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