A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a promise from the lender to hold a particular interest rate and a certain number of points for you for a certain period during your application process. This protects you from going through your whole application process and learning at the end that your interest rate has gone up.
Although there might be a choice of rate lock periods (from 15 to 60 days), the extended ones are typically more expensive. The lender can agree to freeze an interest rate and points for a longer period, say 60 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 the shorter lock period, there are several ways you can attain the lowest rate. A bigger down payment will result in a better interest rate, because you'll be starting out with more equity. You might choose to pay points to improve your rate over the loan term, meaning you pay more initially. For a lot of people, this makes sense and is a good deal..
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