A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a lender's promise to hold a specific interest rate and a particular number of points for you for a specified period during your application process. This saves you from going through your whole application process and discovering at the end that your interest rate has gone up.
While there might be a choice of rate lock periods (from 15 to 60 days), the longer ones are generally more expensive. The lending institution will agree to freeze an interest rate and points for a longer period, such as 60 days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be higher than with a rate lock of a shorter period.
In addition to going with the shorter lock period, there are several ways you can attain the lowest rate. The bigger down payment you can make, the lower the interest rate will be, since you will have more equity from the beginning. You could choose to pay points to improve your interest rate for the term of the loan, meaning you pay more up front. For many people, this is a good option..
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