When you are promised a "rate lock" from a lender, it means that you are guaranteed to keep a set interest rate for a certain number of days while you work on your application process. This means your interest rate cannot rise during the application process.
Although there can be a choice of rate lock periods (from 15 to 60 days), the extended ones are generally more expensive. A lender will agree to freeze an interest rate and points for a longer span of time, like 60 days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be higher than that of a rate lock of fewer days.
In addition to opting for the shorter lock period, there are other ways you are able to get the best rate. A bigger down payment will give you a better interest rate, because you'll be starting out with a good deal of equity. You may choose to pay points to bring down your interest rate for the loan term, meaning you pay more initially. One strategy that makes financial sense for some 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, especially if you don't refinance early.
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