"Rate Lock" and other Ways to Get a Lower Interest Rate
Locking It In
When you're promised a "rate lock" from a lender, it means that you are guaranteed to get a particular interest rate for a certain number of days while you work on the application process. This keeps you from going through your whole application process and discovering at the end that the interest rate has gotten higher.
Rate lock periods can be various lengths of time, between 15 to 60 days, with the longer ones typically costing more. A lender may agree to hold an interest rate and points for a longer period, such as 60 days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be more than that of a rate lock of fewer days.
Other Ways to Save on Interest
There are more ways to get a reduced rate, besides agreeing to a shorter rate lock period. The larger down payment you can pay, the better your interest rate will be, since you will have more equity from the beginning. You might choose to pay points to lower your interest rate for the life of the loan, meaning you pay more up front. One strategy that is a good option for some is to pay points to bring the rate down over the life of the loan. You will pay more initially, but you will come out ahead in the end.