Solutions for Separations

Divorces and separations can be very stressful and complex situations to resolve. They are especially difficult when homes and children are involved.

How do you work out a fair arrangement? Can child support be extended? How do figure out what to do when one partner leaves and the other stays?

This is another reason why working with professionals and asking the right questions can reduce the anxiety and help you financially. We all know that attorneys will be involved, but sometimes asking your mortgage broker for advice can be a big help. I’m happy to partner with attorneys and mediators to be a sounding board for things like debt-to-income ratio calculations, housing budgets, realistic mortgage payment options, and income sources. I do not give legal advice but I understand what attorneys look for and provide them with helpful information.

Over the years, I have worked with clients in these situations and offered advice that has made a difference in their lives. Recently I worked with a couple to arrange a buyout when one partner stayed in the home while the other bought a condo nearby and needed a new mortgage. This involved a re-finance on the home which resulted in a lower rate, and the mortgage on the condo.

Recently, I helped a divorcing woman buy her husband out of the family home. She needed the child support to count as part of her income. The underwriter looked at the children’s ages (18+) and initially declined it. But I knew the kids were still living at home with their mom when not in school. With the help of a family law attorney who provided Massachusetts-specific statutes around this issue, I was able to ultimately get it approved when it would otherwise have been declined.

If you or someone you know is thinking of separating or is in the process of divorcing, it’s worth your time to discuss your options with me. Give me a call at 617-965-1236.

Ready to buy a new home or refinance the one you own? Please get in touch and I’ll be happy to answer your questions and help guide you through the process. I look forward to speaking with you.


Autum Musings

The fall season is here and it’s starting to feel like it outside. Mornings are darker and chillier. Leaves are changing color. Pumpkin spice is everywhere. Here are a few things you may not know about the fall.

  1. Leaves don’t actually change color. Well, they do, but they’ve had those colors all along.
    Those stunning red, orange, and yellow pigments are actually present all year; they’re hiding under the surface. When sunlight diminishes in fall, chlorophyll breaks down, letting the plant’s hidden red, yellow, and orange hues shine.
  2. Squirrels get smarter in the fall. When they bury nuts and seeds in hundreds of scattered hiding places that serve as emergency winter reserves, a typical squirrel shows a 15 percent increase in the size of its hippocampus –the memory and emotion center of the brain –compared to the rest of the year.
  3. In foliage-blessed states like ours, “leaf peeping” is a $3 billion dollar business in New England, where millions of out-of-state visitors flock to take in the changing colors.
  4. In Massachusetts, the most popular Halloween candy is Butterfinger. Here’s a map with the most popular Halloween candy by state.

October’s Home Improver: Using the Whole Pumpkin

OK, so for years you’ve mastered the art of pumpkin carving. Your jack-o-lanterns are the envy of the neighborhood. But what have you done with the inside of the pumpkin? Did you just scoop it out and toss it in the trash? If you did, you’ve missed out on the benefits of this versatile member of the squash family.

  1. Pumpkin Stew. It may sound weird, but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. Pumpkin in stew adds texture and flavor that will make you want to use it for every stew you cook this fall. It’s also delicious (and full of nutrients) in your Chili.
  2. Pumpkin Pie. Where do you get your pumpkin pie? At the store? Come on now! You just pulled the main ingredient out of your Halloween pumpkin. Make a pie out of it!
  3. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds. After you’ve taken the time to carefully pick out the, I don’t know, million or so pumpkin seeds, don’t toss them! Roast them.
  4. Make a Cocktail. This Pumpkin Spice cocktail is described as “interesting” by the author, but hey, it’ll be a big hit with the adults at your Halloween party!
  5. Feed the Animals. If you are allowed to feed wildlife that may be passing by your home, consider carving up your pumpkin into chunks after Halloween and leaving it out for deer and other animals who might enjoy it.

Being Grateful for Those Who Are Thankful

Sometimes the most important job I have is to talk someone out of buying a home. It sounds counterintuitive, but I can tell you after many years of working in this profession that some of the best mortgage advice I could ever give is to hold off on it.

Buying a home is a deeply emotional investment. Once someone decides it’s the right thing to do, it can be difficult to talk them out of it. But I believe it’s my ethical responsibility to help people succeed, even when it goes against my clients’ requests.

I know some serious, go-getter mortgage professionals who close more loans every year than I ever will. But their style is different from mine. You ask for a mortgage and they find a way grant it, no questions asked. I can’t work that way with so much at stake for people making such a big investment.

I think about a recently divorced woman with two young children. She wanted a fresh start in a new home. After reviewing her financials and understanding her situation I gave her the news she didn’t want to hear. It simply made more financial sense for her to rent for at least a year. In that time she could increase her credit score along with a salary bump from an impending promotion.

It was a difficult conversation. As you can imagine, she was disappointed. I knew, however, that it was the right thing to do. And 18 months later, after I helped her with her mortgage, she called to thank me for not moving forward with her original request. The timing, she realized, just wasn’t right.

These are the stories that make me grateful for what I do. I see it all the time from the professionals I work with regularly. When you put people ahead of profit you’ll always have thankful clients — and that’s what makes me grateful.

Ready to buy a new home or refinance the one you own? Please get in touch and I’ll be happy to answer your questions and help guide you through the process. I look forward to speaking with you.

Getting Divorced? Here’s Your Mortgage Timeline

Divorce is rarely a sudden action. Removing oneself from what was once a life-long commitment often takes time and consideration. It also requires planning and strategy which generally takes place with an attorney who specializes in divorce and family law.

Next, it’s important to contact a mortgage professional. There are many questions to ask along with information to gather and understand.

You’ll need to know the answers to questions like these:

  • Can I stay in my home? Will my spouse move out?
  • Should I buy a new home?
  • Does my downpayment come from my assets?
  • Should we sell the house and split the money?
  • How much debt have I accrued?
  • What’s my debt-to-income ratio?
  • What’s my credit score?

After answering these questions, you’ll need to get your name off your current mortgage. This is especially important before securing a mortgage for your new home, even if you’re divorcing and planning to sell. If your name is still on the mortgage in your current home, you may be denied approval for a new one.

In addition, the closing date on your current home must occur before the date of the purchase of your new home. Be careful. You’ll risk getting approved if these timelines are not followed.

Making it through the emotionally difficult process of divorce is hard enough without having the right people in your corner. Please contact me after you’ve met with your attorney — or recommend me to women who are planning a separation or divorce.

Ready to buy a new home or refinance the one you own? Please get in touch and I’ll be happy to help guide you through the process. I look forward to speaking with you.

August’s Home Improver

Which Kitchen Trash Can?

In the good old days when you needed a kitchen trash can you’d go to the supermarket or local hardware store and grab a plastic can and cover and a box of tall kitchen garbage bags. Done! These days, that same simple need is now a quest for the perfect receptacle for your kitchen.

Looks, location and functionality all need to be considered. Plastic or metal? Inside or outside the cabinet? Mechanized cover or old school step-to-open lid? So many choices!

Once you make up your mind, there’s a bigger issue. We know, you thought you were done, but there’s more. Here’s the deal: It’s less about the look than the lid. Covering your trash not only stops odors from spreading, but it also prevents insects from landing on bacteria and then happily spreading it throughout the rest of your house. Yes, people, this is a thing! Your neighbor the germaphobe isn’t as crazy as you thought, now is she?

Those hidden trash cans that hang off the inside of a cabinet door rarely have covers. Your can might be out of sight, but left uncovered it’s quietly inviting flies, ants and mice to feast on whatever you’ve discarded.

So take our advice when it comes to choosing the right kitchen trash can. Pick the style you like most, but remember that an uncovered can is a bacteria-spreading deal-breaker.

If Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness, What Does?

With the Powerball jackpot now over a billion dollars, many people purchasing tickets have fantasized about how incredible life would be if they somehow managed to beat the 292-million-to-1 odds and won the biggest lottery payout ever.

It would truly be amazing and it would certainly present opportunities that the average person could never imagine. But don’t be discouraged if/when you don’t win. After all, wealth and happiness are two very different concepts.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal discussed a survey of divorced women and their relationship with money. The majority of the women polled felt that they were more secure about their finances than when they were married.

This may seem incongruent, given that most of the women left a two-income household. Now, with less money and more responsibility, they feel more content.

How can this be?

The answer is control. Many women do not have enough of a say regarding their finances while married and they have little control over their spouse’s spending. The author went on to point out a poll that mentions financial issues as the leading cause of divorce, ahead of compatibility. It makes sense that divorced women with less money but more control over their spending could very well be more content than they were in their marriage.

Do you have a friend or relative who is newly divorced or considering the possibility? I can give her expert guidance on securing the mortgage that works best for her.

For those of you who are already content but want more, there’s always Powerball. Good luck!

If you have questions about mortgages or you are preparing to purchase a new home, please get in touch and I’ll be happy to help guide you through the process. I look forward to speaking with you.

January’s Home Improver

Marie Kondo’s Tips for Tidying

Even though we’re still a couple of cold and snowy months away from spring cleaning, your home may look its most cluttered in the winter. Boots, bulky coats and snow shovels are all within reach when they are normally in storage most of the year. Snowed-in kids break out their toys and games and many don’t put them back as neatly as they found them.

Marie Kondo is the author of the bestselling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” It has been at or near the top of the nonfiction chart for over a year. Here are some of her rules for decluttering:

  • Declutter not by room, but by category. Start with the easy stuff (old documents) and proceed to the things that are more difficult to part with (photos and mementos).
  • Only keep items that “spark joy.” Ask yourself that question when you pick up each item.
  • Rather than looking at what you want to get rid of, choose only the items you need to keep. Are they truly necessary?
  • Fold and store things carefully in drawers to maximize space. There are many YouTube videos demonstrating her technique.

Have fun decluttering and tidying your home!

You Don’t Need a Spouse to Buy a House

Real estate trends occur for many reasons. The economy is often a factor, but other influences determine changes in demographics. The steady increase of women choosing career over family, combined with fewer couples marrying — or staying married — has led to a rising trend of single women buying homes.
The National Association of Realtors recently published statistics showing that single women account for 23% of first-time home buyers. That’s significant growth in a category that has slowly but steadily risen since the late 1990s. In contrast, single men make up just 15% of first-time home buyers.
What about repeat buyers, you ask? The numbers remain in line. Single women comprise 15%, while single men account for just 8% of second time (or more) home purchases.
With divorces and the overall slowdown of marriages leaving more single adults in the market for housing, it’s easy to see why single women are buying more homes on their own than ever before. Back in the ’90s, 52% of first-time buyers were married couples. Today that number is just 40%.
These statistics reflect my client base. It is very common for divorced or single women to contact me about buying a home. Some have children and some do not. What they don’t have is a spouse.
As this demographic grows, it presents more opportunities for me to help these women make smart financial choices about their mortgages. I love helping them understand the process and make good decisions for themselves, their finances, and their future.
If you know a single woman who is tired of renting or is divorcing and wants to know their options for buying a home, please have them get in touch with me for a consultation. I would be more than happy to answer their questions.

September’s Home Improver

Get Your Mind Into the Gutter

The fall is unforgiving when it comes to clogged gutters. If you haven’t already cleaned them out in the past few weeks, you should take care of it as soon as you are able. Leaves will be falling before you know it and if your gutters are already clogged, you may experience some unexpected damage to your home.
Here’s why:
Your gutters and downspouts control the flow of rainwater around your home. When they are clogged, the excess water has nowhere to go. This often causes the exterior of your home to decay prematurely and the cost for repair is typically much larger than the cost to pay a professional to clear your gutters. Notice more mosquitoes around the house than usual? Standing water in your gutters is a literal breeding ground for those pests.
You may think that the summer doesn’t add leaves so the gutters are probably fine. However, soil accumulated from the winter and spring can cause weeds to grow and thrive in the gutter and downspouts, causing heavy blockages even before the first fall leaves begin to change colors.
If you think you’ve got nothing to worry about because there aren’t many trees in your area, think again–especially if you happen to own a house with asphalt shingles. The granules in the shingles fall away during harsh weather and make their way into gutters and downspouts. Remember that brief but battering August hailstorm? That may have triggered an asphalt granule mini avalanche.
For all of these reasons, it is well worth taking the time to have your gutters thoroughly inspected and cleaned.

Why a 3% Downpayment is a Terrible Offer For Some Buyers

One of the pitfalls of buying a new home is paying too little for your downpayment. Making the right decision involves an analysis of the costs related to your debt and your income.

When banks offer low downpayment programs in the 3% to 5% range, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should jump at the chance. When you put down a small amount to buy your home, you’re mortgaging a higher loan amount. This can be a costly mistake.

I have recently advised a divorced mom with three kids to put down more than half the cost of her home from a recent inheritance. While this was more than she had expected to put down, she realized that this initial payment would be the best solution and would help her comfortably handle her monthly expenses.

To make the mortgage work, we needed to assess her debt-to-income ratio (DTI). When we talk about debt, we mean more than just the monthly bills. We also factor in costs like the principle, property taxes, condo fees and insurance premiums.

By putting down a big chunk of her inheritance, it created a DTI that was under 45% of her gross income. Hitting this number is critical for certain types of mortgages and banks are far more likely to be as comfortable lending you the money as you would be paying it back.

I help my clients review programs that allow those 3%-5% downpayments, but I also advise them on the risk vs. reward when taking an offer that seems like a blessing but could turn out to be a financial curse you’ll have to live with for many years to come.

There’s no reason to buy a home without talking to a professional first. Get in touch if you or someone you love is in the early stages of buying a home.

August’s Home Improver

Fall Home Prep Checklist

The transition from summer to fall is drastic, particularly for families with children. As the kids get ready to return to school, you may find yourself getting your home ready for the autumn weather and a more regimented family schedule. Here’s a checklist of suggestions to get your home ready for the fall.

1. Close Your Pool. But wait until the weather dips below 90º. You may still need it for another few weeks.
2. Clean Your Gutters. If your gutters are slightly clogged now, they won’t stand a chance once the leaves start to fall.
3. Clean Out The Garage. Move the summer stuff to the back and keep your rake and shovel up front. If it’s cluttered, empty it out so you can fit your car in there when the weather changes.
4. Take Out Air Conditioners. You may also want to purchase covers if you choose to leave them in.
5. Fall Cleaning. This is just like Spring Cleaning, but in September.
6. Change the Decor. Buy a new welcome mat, change your sofa pillows, consider bath towels in fall colors, buy candles that match the feeling of the season.
7. Clean Up Your Mudroom. Move out the flip-flops and summer hats to make room for boots, coats, scarves and everything else the fall weather requires.
8. Change Your Artwork. Move hanging art to other rooms to switch it up. From pictures of your summer vacation.
9. Get Your Pets Ready, Too! New dog and cat beds make your home look neater and your pets feel more comfortable. And don’t forget a raincoat for Rex. Speaking of which…
10. Break Out Your Umbrellas. Buy an elegant umbrella stand for your nice clean mudroom. Add new umbrellas that open when you click the button on the first try — and haven’t been blown inside out a few times over the years.

Ice Cream and Mortgage Options

While on our summer vacation, my husband, daughters and I stopped for some ice cream to cool off after enjoying a wonderful day in the hot sun.

“Would you like chocolate or rainbow sprinkles?” My daughter pondered the question for a moment, then asked, “Why can’t I have both — half chocolate and half rainbow?”

Great idea, I thought. Why not have a taste of both options? It costs the same and the server was happy to indulge us. This got me thinking about options and how easy it is to recommend me over the big banks when it comes to financing the home you’ve always wanted but never thought you could afford.

When you go to a bank, their goal is to get you a mortgage. What I have discovered in talking to clients is that they were, in fact, given some options and they did answer some questions. But the options offered by the bank employees are generally pretty basic: 15-year or 30-year mortgage? Adjustable or fixed rate?

When I talk about options, there’s more involved than simply choosing the length and type of mortgage. I get as creative as possible while considering your whole financial picture — past, present and future.

Last year I spoke with a newly divorced mother of three who was interested in buying a summer place. We discussed the option of a cash-out refinance. This is when you take the equity out of your current home to use it for another property-related transaction. It differs from a home equity loan, which is another loan on top of your existing mortgage.

This is an option my client never knew existed and it’s not something typically offered by the big banks. With the cash-out refinance, she was able to buy her summer home.

If you need advice on creative ways to buy either a first or second home — or if you just can’t decide on which toppings you should choose for your ice cream — please get in touch. I look forward to working with you.

July’s Home Improver

An Expert’s Advice on Watering Your Lawn 

Ask anyone when the best time to water the lawn is and you’re likely to get several very different responses. Some say watering during the morning hours is best, while others insist that an evening spritz is ideal. So who’s right? We did a little research and we also reached out to a local expert for help in figuring out when and how often we should turn on the hose or sprinklers.

According to Kyle McNerney of Smart Water Management, the best thing you can do for your lawn is water the soil deeply and at the frequency required. You’ll need to factor in weather, plant types, sun, shade and the depth of the roots of a particular plant. For example, shrubs need more water than grass, and should be watered 2-to-3 times a week. While lawns don’t need as deep a watering as shrubs, Kyle believes they should be watered every other day. Daily watering may be required on days of intense sun and heat.

So when is the best time of day to water your lawn? According to Popular Mechanics, the morning is the ideal time of day. The weather is usually cooler and there’s less wind, which allows for a more even distribution of the water. During the day, water can evaporate too quickly, even before it is absorbed into the soil. Evenings, once thought to be the perfect time, are actually the worst. Water clinging too long to the grass can promote fungus and cause your grass to die off prematurely. Turn on your sprinklers before you head to work and your lawn will have the best chance to thrive throughout the summer and fall.

Reality Check: Longer-term Mortgages Make Sense

I have a friend who hates bills. Hates ’em! She can’t pay them fast enough so she doesn’t have to look at them. Hating bills isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In my friend’s case, her quick payments have yielded a stellar credit rating.
Imagine her surprise when I suggested that she opt for a 30-year mortgage rather than the 15 she was considering.
My friend has good job. She’s recently divorced and has two young children to support. A one-income homeowner with two dependents needs all the financial flexibility she can allow herself. While her income and excellent credit is enough to qualify her for a 15-year mortgage, it may tighten her budget enough to restrict her from paying for unexpected home repairs, a new car and even a much-needed vacation–for 15 years!
The fact is, we’re always paying for something when it comes to our homes. While it may seem like paying the mortgage quickly is a great goal, all we’re really doing is moving our money around differently. It’s easy enough to get the idea in your head that paying off the mortgage leaves you with nothing left to pay. Unfortunately, my bill-hating friend will never be free from paying property taxes, homeowners insurance, repairs and renovations.
A 30-year mortgage isn’t always right for everyone, but in many cases it makes the most sense. Focusing on paying more in a shorter period could make you put off paying for a roof leak that has, over the years, turned into a roof replacement.
There’s also your quality of life to consider. That trip to Europe you’ve always wanted to take. That car with the heated leather seats you dream about every winter. The opportunity for your children to attend the best schools. All of these things are compromised when your mortgage payment doesn’t leave you the financial flexibility to spend your money on the things that are most important to you. It’s great to own a home that you love, but your unnecessarily high mortgage payment should never prevent you or your children from living a fulfilling life.
Do you have a friend or relative in need of mortgage advice? Please contact me. I will be happy to help.
June’s Home Improver
Avoiding a Summer of Mosquito Bites
Question: What is the deadliest insect in the world? Most people think about swarms of killer bees or those horrible fire ants they always show on the National Geographic channel–so called because it feels like your skin is on fire after you’re bitten. Scary!
The deadliest insect, however, is the mosquito. While many of us see the mosquito as a nuisance more than anything else, these flying pests are notorious carriers of awful diseases, including West Nile Virus, dengue fever and malaria.
To avoid the stinging and scratching, remove any standing water around your home. Mosquitoes breed in water, so keeping things dry will force them to seek out breeding grounds elsewhere.
1. After it rains, dump out water that may have filled flower pots and watering cans. When possible, store them upside down when not in use to avoid water accumulation.
2. Keep gutters clear so that water can move through them. A clogged gutter is a common breeding place for mosquitoes.
3. Clean your birdbath. Regularly changing the water in your birdbath will wipe out any mosquito larvae before they hatch.
4. Folds in tarps and pool covers can create pockets of water that mosquitos love. Clean them out weekly and keep your tarp folded flat when not in use.
Remember to use insect repellent to keep yourself safe from mosquito bites. According to the Centers for Disease Control, you should choose a big repellent with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or, for those seeking a natural remedy, the plant-based oil of lemon eucalyptus.

Co-Signing a Mortgage: Is It Worth The Risk?

There are several circumstances that require co-signing for a mortgage. The most common scenario involves a married couple. The two incomes combine to sufficiently cover the cost of the monthly mortgage payment. Other cases include parents co-signing for their child’s first home; adult children co-signing for their aging parents whose income has diminished at retirement; siblings or friends helping each other out. The fact is, most people with good credit and assets can co-sign for someone else. Whether the co-signer feels a familial obligation or they just want to help someone, the question remains: Is the risk worth the reward?

Let’s look at that married couple. What happens if they divorce in a few years and the wife remains in the home? While she has now taken over paying the mortgage, her ex-husband’s credit is still at risk, even though he is not making the payments. If she is late with her payment or defaults on it, they will equally share in the liability. There is an option to refinance, but what happens if the ex-wife does not qualify on her own? The ex-husband may choose to keep his name on the mortgage, especially when children are involved.

In the case of friends or family co-signing, it is important to understand that what began as an act of kindness can quickly turn into a regrettable decision. When it comes to your hard-earned credit, you must consider the history as well as the potential of the person you’re signing for: Why is their credit low? Do they have a stable job history? Will their income increase over time? Do you trust that this person with poor credit and/or limited assets will take on and consistently pay a monthly loan over 15 or 30 years?

Worst case scenario: As the co-signer, you are responsible for the loan if the homeowner defaults on the payment. If you already have a mortgage of your own to pay, you now have two. In addition, because the homeowner defaulted on the payment, your credit has taken a hit in the process.

None of this is meant to say that all co-signed mortgages are a mistake. Many of them work out perfectly with no issues. The point here is understand your responsibilities as a co-signer and if you choose to proceed, be ready to take on the full responsibility of the mortgage.

If you are recently divorced and need information about refinancing or if you have further questions about co-signing for a mortgage, please contact me at 617-965-1236 or email me.

April’s Home Library Improver

Marijuana: The Unbiased Truth About The World’s Most Popular Weed by Kevin P. Hill, M.D.

Typically, this space is reserved for home improvement or gardening tips — although I suppose this could fall under “gardening.” My husband, Dr. Kevin P. Hill, had his book published recently and I am excited to tell everyone about it! 
Marijuana: The Unbiased Truth About the World’s Most Popular Weed, by Kevin P. Hill, M.D., explores the history and debunks the myths about this controversial plant’s colorful 2000-year history.
null
From the publisher: “Whether you’re a parent concerned about your child’s use, someone with an illness considering medical marijuana as a treatment option, a user who has questions about its effect on your health, or if you’re just trying to make up your mind about legalization, this book will give you the most current and unbiased information you need to make informed decisions about marijuana.”
The book is available in paperback and as an e-book. You can buy it at the following retailers:

The Harsh Truth About Women and Finance

One of the more memorable acceptance speeches delivered at this year’s Academy Awards was from Best Supporting Actress, Patricia Arquette. Her remarks about gender equality and the pay gap between men and women struck a chord that lasted beyond the show, and she recently spoke at an event sponsored by the United Nations on the same topic.

In 2015, it is shocking — though not surprising to some — that women would be paid less for doing the same job as men. Yes, times are changing but perhaps not fast enough in this case. Ms. Arquette made the comment that change starts with women.

I mention this because of a Boston Globe article written recently about how women lag behind men in financial literacy. This is another example where there should be gender equality. The gist of the article says that women scored lower than men in answering questions related to money and finances.

It also goes on to say that the women who were polled were more financially vulnerable than their male counterparts.

Whether or not a gender pay gap is a factor, the truth is that women today need to understand their finances as well as men for a number of reasons.

In the case of a divorce, a woman who may have relied on her husband now bears the full responsibility for her financial well-being.

Among married couples, we know that women tend to outlive their husbands and at some point they need to have a solid grasp of their financial situation.

Obviously there are many exceptions to the rule and plenty of women are both the breadwinner and the decision-maker of the family when it comes to finances. However, it is important that all women (and men, too!) learn and understand how their finances work so that they can make informed decisions at critical moments in their lives.

Here’s the link to the quiz to test your financial capability.

March’s Home Improver
Crocus Focus

There are a few sure signs of spring. First is the end of snow (which may or may not be the case after this record-setting year). Next, there are the clocks “springing ahead” to Daylight Saving Time. Finally, there is the emergence of the beautiful crocus plant.

The crocus is a perennial bulb that is a member of the iris family. It blooms in several colors, including purple, white and saffron. In fact, the spice saffron is made from crocus flowers.

Why does the crocus tend to bloom before other plants? One thing we know is that the crocus will bloom at the first reasonably warm day and will remain unharmed even with a few remaining snowstorms left in the season.

The crocus is also resistant to insects, though a hungry squirrel may have its way with it. Its hardy nature makes it a plant you can expect to see growing in your yard for many years to come.

If you plan to plant crocus bulbs, the best time to do it is in the fall. The bulbs settle in for a long winter’s nap before poking up through the soil at the first sign of spring. Some varieties of crocus actually bloom in the fall and should be planted in late summer. Clearly, this plant enjoys a change in seasons.

The crocus looks best when it grows under trees and in large flower beds. Your blooming crocus will display its stunning colors as its delicate leaves sway in the breeze. Following a brutal winter, this amazing flower offers hope for a warm and beautiful spring.