When you are offered a "rate lock" from a lender, it means that you are guaranteed to get a certain interest rate for a certain number of days for your application process. This keeps you from getting through your entire application process and finding out at the end that the interest rate has risen higher.
Although there are several lengths of rate lock periods (from 15 to 60 days), the extended ones are usually more expensive. A lending institution can agree to lock in an interest rate and points for a longer span of time, like 60 days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be higher than that of a rate lock of a shorter period.
In addition to choosing the shorter lock period, there are other ways you can get the lowest rate. The more the down payment, the lower your interest rate will be, as you will have more equity from the beginning. You can pay points to improve your interest rate for the term of the loan, meaning you pay more up front. For a lot of people, this is a good option..
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