A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a promise from the lender to set a certain interest rate and a certain number of points for you for a certain period of time during your application process. This means your interest rate cannot grow during the application process.
Although there are several lengths of rate lock periods (from 15 to 60 days), the longer spans are generally more expensive. The lending institution may agree to lock in an interest rate and points for a longer span of time, like sixty days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be more than that of a rate lock of a shorter period.
There are more ways to get a lower rate, in addition to agreeing to a shorter rate lock period. The larger down payment you can pay, the smaller the interest rate will be, since you will have more equity from the start. You may opt to pay points to improve your interest rate for the life of the loan, meaning you pay more up front. To a lot of people, this is a good option..
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