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An improving economy has many financial experts predicting that interest rates will continue to rise. That means it could cost you more to take out any kind of loan, including mortgages.

If you think you might be in the market for a new home, you don’t want rising rates to make the home of your dreams just a little too expensive for your monthly budget.

Don’t worry! There’s help. You can protect yourself from increasing rates by locking in your mortgage rate before there’s a hike.

Before You Begin

First, you’ll need to fully understand your budget and credit situation. You can connect with a lender you trust and begin going over how much money you make, how much you owe and what kind of monthly mortgage you’d be comfortable paying. This is a great time to find out if you need to fix any unknown credit issues you might have, or if you will need to start saving extra for a down payment. You can also learn if a zero-money-down loan is right for your situation.

Find a real estate agent once you’re armed with your budget. Agents in the RealtyPlus network can help you find the perfect place. In many states, they can even help you get cash back from your purchase.

Finally – the fun begins! Start house hunting. Once you have a sales contract in place, you can lock in your rate.

Locking in Your Rate

Locking in your rate means that even if interest rates go up, the rate for your loan will remain at the level you agreed to with your lender. At Navy Federal, you can lock in a rate for up to 60 days at no additional cost.

Look for a free “float down” option when locking in your interest rate. That means, if interest rates go down before you close on the property, you can request the lower interest rate at no cost.

Why is this a big deal? Well, even a slight increase in interest rate could cost you thousands over the course of your loan. Locking in a good rate is a simple way to save money – both monthly and over the life of your mortgage.

It all starts with connecting with a lender you trust. The sooner you do, the sooner you can find your dream home – at a locked-in rate before a rate hike.

100% financing loans from Navy Federal may include an additional funding fee, which may be financed up to the maximum loan amount. Available for purchase loans only. Product features subject to approval.

The cash-back bonus is offered in most states. In some states, a gift card or commission credit at closing may be provided in lieu of the cash-back bonus. The program is not available in IA or outside the U.S. Cash-back bonus is not available in AK, LA, MS, or OK. In KS and TN, a gift card with pre-loaded points that are ready for spending at specified retail establishments after closing will be issued. State regulations in KS limit the dollar amounts and the type of incentive. In NJ and OR, a commission reduction may be available at closing. Please check with the program coordinator for details. This is not a solicitation if you are already represented by a real estate broker. The cash-back bonus is only available with the purchase and/or sale of your home through the use of a program-referred and -approved real estate agent. All real estate transactions are negotiable. Other terms and conditions may apply.

This article is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.