When you are promised a "rate lock" from your lender, it means that you are guaranteed to get a certain interest rate over a certain number of days while you work on your application process. This prevents you from working through your entire application process and discovering at the end that your interest rate has gotten higher.
Rate lock periods can be various lengths of time, anywhere from fifteen to sixty days, with the longer period typically costing more. A lender may agree to lock in an interest rate and points for a longer span of time, say sixty days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be more than with a rate lock of fewer days.
There are more ways to get a better rate, in addition to going with a shorter rate lock period. A bigger down payment will give you a better interest rate, since you'll have more equity from the beginning. You could choose to pay points to reduce your rate over the loan term, meaning you pay more initially. One strategy that makes financial sense for some is to pay points to bring the rate down over the life of the loan. You will pay more initially, but you'll save money, especially if you don't refinance early.
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