When you're promised a "rate lock" from the lender, it means that you are guaranteed to get a particular interest rate for a determined period while you work on your application process. This ensures that your interest rate can't get higher during the application process.
Although there are various lengths of rate lock periods (from 15 to 60 days), the longer ones are generally more expensive. The lending institution may 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 opting for the shorter lock period, there are other ways you can attain the lowest rate. The bigger the down payment, the smaller your interest rate will be, since you will have more equity from the beginning. You might choose to pay points to reduce your rate over the loan term, 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 life of the loan. You will pay more up front, but you will save money in the long run.
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