When you're offered a "rate lock" from the lender, it means that you are guaranteed to keep a certain interest rate over a determined period for the application process. This keeps you from working through your entire application process and finding out at the end that the interest rate has gotten higher.
Rate lock periods can vary in length, anywhere from fifteen to sixty days, with the longer period generally costing more. You can get a longer period for your lock, but in doing so, will likely have a higher interest rate than you would with a shorter span of time
There are other ways to get a low rate, besides going with a shorter rate lock period. A larger down payment will result in a better interest rate, since you are starting out with more equity. You can pay points to reduce your interest rate for the life of the loan, meaning you pay more up front. For a lot of people, this is a good option..
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