When you're offered a "rate lock" from a lender, it means that you are guaranteed to get a certain interest rate for a certain number of days while you work on the application process. This prevents you from going through your entire application process and finding out at the end that the interest rate has risen higher.
Rate lock periods can vary in length, between fifteen to sixty days, with the longer ones typically costing more. The lending institution will agree to lock in an interest rate and points for a longer span of time, 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 going with the shorter lock period, there are several ways you can score the best rate. The bigger down payment you make, the lower the rate will be, because you will have more equity from the beginning. You can pay points to reduce your rate for the life of the loan, meaning you pay more initially. To a lot of people, this is a good option..
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