A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a promise from the lender to freeze a particular interest rate and a particular number of points for you for a certain period of time while your application is processed. This means your interest rate can't grow during the application process.
Although there may be a choice of rate lock periods (from 15 to 60 days), the extended spans are generally more expensive. The lending institution can agree to hold an interest rate and points for a longer span of time, like sixty days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be more than that of a rate lock of fewer days.
In addition to choosing a shorter rate lock period, there are more ways you may be able to score the best rate. The more the down payment, the smaller your interest rate will be, as you will be entering the loan with more equity. You might opt to pay points to improve your rate over the term of the loan, meaning you pay more up front. One strategy that makes financial sense for some is to pay points to improve the rate over the term of the loan. You are paying more initially, but you will save money in the end.
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