When you are offered a "rate lock" from the lender, it means that you are guaranteed to keep a specific interest rate for a determined period while you work on the application process. This ensures that your interest rate will not rise during the application process.
Although there might be a choice of rate lock periods (from 15 to 60 days), the longer spans are typically more expensive. The lender will agree to freeze an interest rate and points for a longer span of time, say sixty days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be higher than with a rate lock of fewer days.
There are other ways to get a low rate, besides choosing a shorter rate lock period. A larger down payment will give you a lower interest rate, since you'll have a good amount of equity from the beginning. You might choose to pay points to improve your rate for the loan term, meaning you pay more up front. One strategy that is a good option for many people is to pay points to bring the rate down over the life of the loan. You'll pay more initially, but you will come out ahead, especially if you keep the loan for the full term.
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