When you are promised a "rate lock" from a lender, it means that you are guaranteed to get a specific interest rate over a certain number of days for your application process. This protects you from going through your whole application process and finding out at the end that the interest rate has gotten higher.
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 doing so, will most likely have a higher interest rate than you would have with a shorter period.
A larger down payment will yield a more favorable interest rate as opposed to a lower down payment. You can buy down your interest rate by paying points. Determining if this is a good option depends on how long you anticipate on staying in the home.
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