Spring is the most popular time of year to buy a home. Not only is it the perfect opportunity to get out and about and explore new neighborhoods, it also gives everyone plenty of time to recover from the hassle and hustle of the holidays.

Considering the number of other buyers to compete with in springtime, you need to give yourself an edge. Here are four key things you can do to get a jump start in the game.

Know your numbers!

You’ll save a lot of time and runaround by getting preapproved for a loan when you’re ready to launch your home search, in order to zero in on what you can reasonably afford. This works out in your favor on all fronts. Not only will you be better equipped to make an informed decision on your big purchase once you have a realistic budget in mind, your solid offer will make you more attractive to the seller.

Find an expert! 

It’s important to work with an agent who is a specialist in the area or community you plan to focus on. Getting insider tips and knowledge about specifics – traffic patterns, future development plans, family-friendliness – can be invaluable in narrowing down the field of prospects and streamlining your approach. You also need to have a good rapport with your agent, so you can comfortably share your questions and concerns throughout the entire process. Open communication – a hallmark of the Coldwell Banker® style – is the key to avoiding wasted time on properties that don’t meet your criteria.

Be accommodating!

Offer the homeowner what other buyers might not – flexibility and cooperation. Give concessions when feasible. Your agent may have some ideas about how you can stand out in the crowd. Being privy to specific info about the seller’s situation, you might be able to position yourself accordingly. You could propose taking some furniture off their hands if you know they are downsizing or headed cross-country. You might agree to a quick closing if you’re aware that they are motivated sellers. Putting a house on the market comes with its share of headaches under certain circumstances; any attempt to ease the process will surely be welcome, and may help set you apart.

Stay on your toes!

Finally, once you find the right home for you and make an offer, be attentive and alert. There will likely be a lot of back-and-forth until you cross the finish line. Your agent may need to reach you with questions, issues or concerns that arise. Be as responsive as possible so the deal maintains momentum. With inspectors, lenders, unexpected turns of events, Mother Nature and other factors at play, there may be a few hurdles along the way to a signed contract. The more attentive you are during every step of process and the quicker you react, the better. Hesitation might make the difference in allowing another buyer to get ahead.

In the busiest season for the real estate market, keeping these points in mind may be critical to getting the home you want. Give yourself the advantage and stick with these fab four tips.