When you are offered a "rate lock" from the lender, it means that you are guaranteed to get a certain interest rate over a determined period while you work on your application process. This means your interest rate will not go up during the application process.
Rate lock periods can be various lengths of time, between 15 to 60 days, with the longer ones typically costing more. A lender can agree to freeze an interest rate and points for a longer span of time, say 60 days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be higher than with a rate lock of a shorter period.
In addition to going with the shorter rate lock period, there are several ways you may be able to attain the best rate. The larger down payment you make, the lower your rate will be, as you will be entering the loan with more equity. You may choose to 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 many people is to pay points to improve the rate over the term of the loan. You'll pay more up front, but you will save money in the long run.
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