When you are promised a "rate lock" from your lender, it means that you are guaranteed to keep a specific interest rate for a determined period for the application process. This prevents you from going through your entire application process and learning at the end that your interest rate has risen higher.
While there are various lengths of rate lock periods (from 15 to 60 days), the extended spans are generally more expensive. You can get a longer period for your lock, but in doing so, will likely have a higher rate than you would have with a shorter rate lock span of time
In addition to going with a shorter rate lock period, there are several ways you are able to get the lowest rate. The bigger the down payment, the smaller your rate will be, since you will be starting with more equity. You can pay points to improve your interest rate for the life of the loan, meaning you pay more up front. One strategy that makes financial sense for some is to pay points to bring the rate down over the life of the loan. You pay more initially, but you will save money, especially if you don't refinance early.
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