When you're promised a "rate lock" from the lender, it means that you are guaranteed to keep a certain interest rate for a certain number of days while you work on the application process. This ensures that your interest rate cannot get higher as you are going through the application process.
Rate lock periods can vary in length, anywhere from 15 to 60 days, with the longer spans generally costing more. The lender may agree to lock in an interest rate and points for a longer span of time, like 60 days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be more than that of a rate lock of fewer days.
In addition to going with the shorter rate lock period, there are other ways you are able to get the lowest rate. The bigger down payment you pay, the smaller your interest rate will be, because you will be starting with more equity. You can pay points to lower your interest rate over the term of the loan, meaning you pay more up front. One strategy that makes financial sense for many people is to pay points to bring the rate down over the term of the loan. You'll pay more up front, but you'll come out ahead, especially if you don't refinance early.
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