A rate "lock" or "commitment" is a lender's promise to lock in a particular interest rate and a particular number of points for you for a specified period during your application process. This protects you from getting through your entire application process and finding out 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 spans typically costing more. A lender will agree to lock in an interest rate and points for a longer span of time, such as 60 days, but in exchange, the rate (and sometimes points) will be more than that of a rate lock of a shorter period.
In addition to choosing a shorter lock period, there are more ways you can score the best rate. A bigger down payment will result in a better interest rate, because you'll have more equity at the start. You may choose to pay points to bring down your rate for the loan term, meaning you pay more up front. One strategy that makes financial sense for some is to pay points to bring the rate down over the term of the loan. You will pay more initially, but you'll come out ahead, especially if you don't refinance early.
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