Once a borrower has provided the necessary information to his lender/broker, the lender/broker has disclosed the current pricing for the loan (both rate and either borrower credit or discount points charged), AND borrower has instructed lender/broker to lock rate during normal business hours (ideally via phone, rather than voice mail, email, or fax) lender/broker SHOULD lock rate immmediately and is also legally required to redisclose a new GFE showing the rate locked for a specific time period.
Unfortunately, some lenders/brokers don’t, chosing to wait in hopes rates will improve (along with their compensation for the specific rate in question). Lenders/brokers are specifically, legally required to honor the GFEs they provide, barring a “changed circumstance” such as a lower appraised value, change in loan size or purpose, etc.
If you have a lender/broker provided GFE that says your rate is locked for a specific period, it is legally binding to them. If you have one that says rate is available for the day issued only, and for whatever reason the rate didn’t get locked after that, it’s more of a question on how and when you instructed your lender/broker to lock the rate. Bottom line: borrowers should ask for copies of their rate lock sheet if they have any concerns on whether their loans have been locked as agreed.