When you're offered a "rate lock" from the lender, it means that you are guaranteed to keep a particular interest rate over a determined period while you work on your application process. This ensures that your interest rate can't rise while you are going through the application process.
Although there are various lengths of rate lock periods (from 15 to 60 days), the longer spans are typically more expensive. The lender will agree to freeze an interest rate and points for a longer span of time, say sixty days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be more than with a rate lock of fewer days.
In addition to choosing a shorter rate lock period, there are several ways you are able to attain the lowest rate. A bigger down payment will get you a better interest rate, because you'll have more equity from the beginning. You can pay points to lower your rate for the loan term, meaning you pay more initially. One strategy that makes financial sense for some is to pay points to bring the rate down over the life of the loan. You will pay more initially, but you will come out ahead, especially if you don't refinance early.
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