A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a promise from the lender to set a certain interest rate and a particular number of points for you for a certain period while your application is processed. This protects you from going through your entire application process and learning at the end that the interest rate has gone up.
Rate lock periods can be various lengths of time, anywhere from 15 to 60 days, with the longer ones typically costing more. You can get a longer period for your lock, but in choosing this option, will probably have a higher interest rate than you would with a shorter rate lock period
There are other ways to get a lower rate, besides opting for a shorter rate lock period. A bigger down payment will result in a reduced interest rate, because you will have a good deal of equity from the beginning. You can pay points to lower your rate over the life of the loan, meaning you pay more up front. One strategy that makes financial sense for some is to pay points to reduce the interest rate over the life of the loan. You pay more up front, but you'll come out ahead, especially if you keep the loan for the full term.
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