A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a lender's promise to hold a specific interest rate and a certain number of points for you for a specified period of time while your application is processed. This protects you from going through your whole application process and finding out at the end that the interest rate has gone up.
Rate lock periods can be various lengths of time, between fifteen to sixty days, with the longer spans typically costing more. You can get a longer period for your lock, but in doing so, will probably have a higher interest rate than you would have with a shorter rate lock period
There are other ways to get a low rate, in addition to opting for a shorter rate lock period. The more the down payment, the smaller your rate will be, as you will be entering the loan with more equity. You might choose to pay points to lower your rate for the term of the loan, meaning you pay more initially. To a lot of people, this makes financial sense..
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