When you're offered a "rate lock" from a lender, it means that you are guaranteed to keep a certain interest rate for a determined period while you work on your application process. This means your interest rate will not rise during the application process.
Rate lock periods can vary in length, anywhere from 30 to 60 days, with the longer period usually costing more. The lending institution may agree to hold an interest rate and points for a longer period, such as sixty days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be more than with a rate lock of a shorter period.
In addition to going with the shorter lock period, there are other ways you can score the lowest rate. A larger down payment will give you a reduced interest rate, since you're starting out with more equity. You might opt to pay points to reduce 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 bring the rate down over the life of the loan. You are paying more initially, but you'll save money, especially if you don't refinance early.
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