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 of time during your application process. This means your interest rate cannot rise as you are working through the application process.
Rate lock periods can be various lengths of time, between fifteen to sixty days, with the longer ones usually costing more. A lender will agree to lock in an interest rate and points for a longer period, say sixty days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be more than that of a rate lock of a shorter period.
In addition to choosing a shorter lock period, there are more ways you are able to score the lowest rate. The larger the down payment, the smaller the rate will be, since you will be starting with more equity. You might opt to pay points to lower your rate for the life of the loan, meaning you pay more up front. To a lot of people, this is a good option..
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