How to Lock in a Mortgage Rate

How To Know When To Lock In Your Mortgage Rate Whether you are a first-time homebuyer looking for a home or a seasoned home-buying veteran, you probably know how important it is to get the best mortgage possible, and much of that importance is placed upon the interest rate associated with the loan.

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Locking a mortgage rate means the applicant is guaranteed the interest rate at the time of the lock, which works well if the lock occurs when interest rates are low. The length of a mortgage rate lock varies from lender to lender, with some allowing extended locks for an additional fee.

By locking in the rate, the lender guarantees the interest rate on your loan, usually for 30 to 60 days. The guarantee will protect you in the event that rates go up. There is a fee for a rate lock, though you’re not likely to see it because it’s typically rolled into your interest rate.

Some lenders require a clause in mortgage rate lock agreements that allows the quoted rate to rise by a certain limited amount if interest rates rise before you close on a house. This is known as a rate cap. Even with a rate cap, a mortgage rate lock agreement offers you some protection from rising interest rates.

A mortgage rate lock is an agreement you strike with your mortgage lender (not your broker) that allows you to hold the current interest rate for a specified number of days. If you don’t lock, your mortgage rate could change by the time the loan paperwork is finished being processed.

With a rate lock, you are safeguarded from rates rising. For example, you lock in for 60 days at 3.75 percent. Rates creep up to four percent half way through your lock period. You are still entitled to your original rate.

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As Investopedia explains, a mortgage rate lock is a guarantee from a lender that a borrower will get a specific interest rate on a mortgage. It’s important to note that mortgage rate locks aren’t indefinite.

If rates go down while a lock is in place, you may be able to negotiate a lower rate. And note that the lender can break your rate lock if you happen to bang up your credit while your mortgage.