If you are interested in refinancing, or even buying a home, you don't need lock in your rate at application. A majority of the Seattle area clients I work with, delay starting the refinance process until rates reach the point where they are wanting to lock. A mortgage rate lock commits a specific interest rate and program for a certain period of time.
If your are serious about refinancing and rates are within range of your goal but you're not ready to lock, I recommend starting your loan application prior to the lock. This gets one step out of the way and allows your mortgage originator to review your information and to make sure that the rate you're being quoted is accurate. We will provide you with your preliminary loan documentation and work on your credit approval.
One benefit of delaying your lock is that a shorter lock period may be required for processing your transaction. It may also help avoid an extension, should the rate lock expire. The risk, however, is that you miss out on today's very low rates. Borrowers should consider which risk they can tolerate more: the risk of locking in too early and having rates improve or the risk of locking in too late and having rates rise. Personally, I'm not a "floater"…if I like the rate, I lock it….but it is the borrower's choice.
If your home is located in Washington state, where I'm licensed to originate, I'm happy to help you with this. There is no cost to you until the appraisal is ordered and the appraisal can be postponed until you decide to lock. And if you complete your application with me on line (click "apply here") I'm currently offering a $300 credit towards your closing costs when your mortgage funds with Mortgage Master Service Corporation.
So what are you waiting for?