A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a promise from the lender to freeze a particular interest rate and a certain number of points for you for a certain period during your application process. This ensures that your interest rate won't get higher while you are going through the application process.
Rate lock periods can vary in length, between fifteen to sixty days, with the longer spans typically costing more. The lending institution can agree to lock in an interest rate and points for a longer period, like 60 days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be more than with a rate lock of fewer days.
In addition to choosing a shorter lock period, there are other ways you are able to score the best rate. A bigger down payment will result in a better interest rate, since you'll have more equity at the start. You might choose to pay points to improve your interest rate for the loan term, meaning you pay more initially. One strategy that is a good option for many people is to pay points to bring the rate down over the term of the loan. You'll pay more initially, but you will come out ahead, especially if you don't refinance early.
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