When you are promised a "rate lock" from your lender, it means that you are guaranteed to keep a set interest rate over a certain number of days while you work on your application process. This keeps you from getting through your entire application process and learning at the end that the interest rate has risen higher.
Rate lock periods can vary in length, between 15 to 60 days, with the longer spans usually costing more. A lender may agree to lock in an interest rate and points for a longer period, say sixty days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be more than that of a rate lock of fewer days.
There are more ways to get a reduced rate, in addition to going with a shorter rate lock period. A larger down payment will get you a better interest rate, because you'll be starting out with a good deal of equity. You can pay points to improve your interest rate for the term of the loan, meaning you pay more initially. One strategy that makes financial sense for some is to pay points to reduce the rate over the life of the loan. You pay more up front, but you will save money, especially if you keep the loan for the full term.
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