In a rising rate environment, even a slow moving one, you should lock up as many costs as you can. Do not worry about possible small downward interest rate fluctuations.

QUESTION: Should I lock in the interest rate on my mortgage?

ANSWER: After several years of historic low interest rate levels, the Federal Reserve last year began a series of modest interest rate hikes. Although the Fed has hit the pause button, it will likely resume raising rates at some point in the near or longer term.

In a rising rate environment, even a slow moving one, you should lock up as many costs as you can. Do not worry about possible small downward interest rate fluctuations.

Lock in everything you can, including interest rate, points and terms. Getting a rate lock will guarantee you a certain rate and terms for a given period of time, a must in a rising rate climate. In fact, part of your decision in choosing one lender and/or mortgage product over another should be the terms of the lock contract and its cost. Both can vary among lenders.

Remember to get your lock in writing. Also make sure your lock-in period will be long enough for you to accomplish everything you need to do before the closing. This includes getting all of the necessary documents together for your lender and getting a home and other inspections, as well as fulfilling other contingencies imposed by the purchase contract and/or your lender.

Most lock periods run from 15 to 60 days. Anything longer than that could be cost prohibitive. Ask your lender to estimate (in writing, if possible) the average time it takes to process a loan. Once you lock-in a rate, the clock begins ticking. You must make sure that your loan is approved and closed before the commitment expires.

Keep following up on your loan application to make sure you don’t inadvertently delay the process by not sending in additional documents the lender may require and that your application and loan are indeed moving forward.

Linda Goodspeed is a longtime real estate writer and author of “In and out of Darkness.” Email her at: lrgoodspeed@comcast.net.