Locking your Rate
When you are offered a “rate lock” from a lender, it means that you are guaranteed to keep a set interest rate for a certain number of days for the application process. This protects you from going through your whole application process and learning at the end that your interest rate has gotten higher.
Rate lock periods can be various lengths of time, between fifteen to sixty days, with the longer spans typically costing more. A lender will 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 higher than with a rate lock of fewer days.
More Ways to Get a Great Interest Rate
There are other ways to get a lower rate, in addition to going with a shorter rate lock period. The larger down payment you can pay, the lower the rate will be, as you will be entering the loan with more equity. You can pay points to improve your rate for the loan term, meaning you pay more up front. One strategy that is a good option for many people is to pay points to bring the rate down over the term of the loan.