When you're offered a "rate lock" from the lender, it means that you are guaranteed to keep a particular interest rate over a determined period for your application process. This prevents you from going through your entire application process and discovering at the end that your interest rate has gotten higher.
While there might be a choice of rate lock periods (from 15 to 60 days), the longer spans are usually more expensive. A lending institution may agree to hold an interest rate and points for a longer span of time, say 60 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 good rate, besides going with a shorter rate lock period. A larger down payment will result in a better interest rate, since you'll have more equity from the beginning. You might opt to pay points to improve your rate over the term of the loan, meaning you pay more initially. One strategy that is a good option for many people is to pay points to reduce the interest 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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