A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a promise from the lender to freeze a specific interest rate and a particular number of points for you for a certain period of time while your application is processed. This keeps you from working through your whole application process and learning at the end that the interest rate has risen higher.
Rate lock periods can be various lengths of time, between fifteen to sixty days, with the longer spans usually costing more. You can get a longer period for your lock, but in choosing this option, will likely have a higher rate than you would with a shorter rate lock span of time
In addition to going with a shorter lock period, there are several ways you can get the best rate. A larger down payment will give you a better interest rate, since you'll have more equity from the beginning. You could opt to pay points to bring down your interest rate for the term 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 term of the loan. You will pay more initially, but you will save money in the end.
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