Franklin Affordable Housing Trust – New Property Available!

If you’re a Franklin resident in need of affordable housing, a new property has just been made available by the Town’s Affordable Housing Trust!

Located at 93 Brandywine Road in Franklin, this 4 bed, 2 1/2 bath home is available for $242,240 to homebuyers who meet eligibility criteria.  If you or any member of your household have not owned a home, jointly or individually, in the last three years, and you meet the income and asset eligibility guidelines set by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, this home could be the right one for you.

For more information, please view the Town’s flyer here or contact Maxine Kinheart at (508) 520-4949.

#ShopFranklin Spotlight – Kooky Critters

For this week’s #ShopFranklin Spotlight, I sat down with Holly Sennott of Kooky Critters!

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Arts and crafts are in Holly’s blood.   Her grandmother painted and fired china, her other grandmother was a seamstress who taught her to crochet and sew, her great-grandma was a tailor, her mother sews, and her father enjoyed woodworking. “It definitely came down through the genes,” says Holly.

The Kooky Critters themselves were born on a rainy summer day several years ago, when Holly and her three kids had gone through all of their craft supplies, watched every movie they had, and exhausted every other possible activity. Holly finally brought her family to the bookstore, where they found a book on how to make your own stuffed animals. While the kids loved the book’s ideas, Holly told them, “Guys, we can do better than this! You draw what you would want me to make.” The result was the first Kooky Critter, an adorable monster with crooked teeth and crazy eyes, but Holly didn’t stop there. “I was ready for something other than just being Mom,” Holly says, but she wanted to find something to do that would still allow her to be at home with her kids. When the monster t-shirt she made for her neighbor’s son was a huge hit with his friends, Holly’s neighbor suggested she turn it into a business, and the rest is history.

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Wilson the Worry Critter (courtesy Holly Sennott)

Holly tries to “make items that are functional and helpful – they’re not just toys.” Holly makes several varieties of customizable Critters, including ones that keep kids’ lost teeth safe for the Tooth Fairy, but she’s most proud of her Worry Critters, Wilson and Willow. The Worry Critters grew out of Holly’s feeling of helplessness when one of her children experienced crippling anxiety. Several years later, a friend of Holly’s asked for a customized Critter that would help her child deal with his own anxiety issues, and the Worry Critters were the “culmination of her idea and my design.” The concept is simple: parent and child can work together to write down the worry on a slip of paper, which they put into the Worry Critter’s mouth and the Critter eats it. The worry is safe with the Critter, and the child can “be free of it for a little bit” and return to it when they’re ready to deal with it. “I call it my million-dollar idea that’ll never make me a million dollars, and I’m OK with that,” says Holly.

Kooky Critters can also produce custom items based on kids’ drawings, which Holly says is a huge gift idea around the holidays. Even the #ShopFranklin community is getting into the fun, with a custom Kooky Critter now gracing the bagel rack at Elizabeth’s Bagels, and more in the works for other businesses around town. As a long-time resident of Franklin, community giving and support is important to Holly, and Kooky Critters gives away at least one Critter per month to school auctions, local foster children, families dealing with serious medical issues, and more. No matter what the design, every Kooky Critter is completely handmade, and it’s important to Holly to “be able to put my hands on every piece.” In order to grow her business without sacrificing that personal attention to each Critter, Holly is working on expanding her offerings to include patterns so that other people can sew their own Critters based on Holly’s designs.   Holly’s family also helps out with the business, with her son handling website maintenance and her daughter creating custom graphics for the Kooky Critters Facebook page.

While Holly and her husband originally settled in Franklin because of its easy accessibility to their jobs and families, Franklin’s support for the visual and performing arts has also been a plus for Holly’s family, particularly the music program in the Franklin schools. “If you have children, get them involved at some level. You will not regret it,” Holly says. As a business owner, Holly also appreciates the “tremendous support” Franklin offers for local businesses. “I love that sense of community that Franklin has,” says Holly.

Kooky Critters are sold through Holly’s website and Etsy store. Check out the Kooky Critters Facebook page for the latest on what’s happening in Holly’s workshop!

Essential Home Maintenance for Spring

When you’re planning your spring cleaning for this year, don’t forget about the exterior of your home!  I don’t have to tell you that this was a hard winter, and it’s likely that your home has suffered a few after-effects.  Now that the snow is receding, take a walk around your home and keep an eye out for these potential trouble spots:

Roof.  Even if you didn’t have any leaks inside your home this winter, there are a few things to check for.  Look for any dislodged, broken, or missing shingles, or shingles that appear to be raised.  These could lead to leaks eventually and should be taken care of right away.

Woodpecker damage on cedar clapboards – © Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Walls.  Especially if you have wood siding, check for holes, gaps, and cracks – woodpeckers are scouting for nest sites at this time of year, and you don’t want them deciding that your home is now theirs!  Woodpecker damage can also indicate that insects have burrowed into your siding, so get this checked out ASAP.  Also check for water stains on your walls, particularly around eaves and gutters.  These could indicate that your gutters are clogged or otherwise not draining properly.

Windows.  Check your weatherstripping and seals – don’t let winter damage raise your summer cooling bills by allowing warm air in and cool air out.  If you have double or triple-pane windows, check for condensation between the panes, which signals that the window’s weather seal has deteriorated.

Foundations and chimneys.  Keep an eye out for cracks and missing mortar, which can lead to water infiltration and even structural damage.  It’s best to hire a pro to repair any of these, since caulking over them is just a temporary fix.

Spring is the best time to catch small problems before they become big ones, so don’t neglect this important job!

Franklin Community Gardens 2015 Season – update!

We finally have an update on the Franklin Community Gardens‘ 2015 season!

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From the Garden Committee this week:

“Thanks to a record setting winter there is still snow on the ground, but as spring fights its way forward we’re ready for another great season at the King St. Community Garden. One of the benefits of the raised beds is they will warm up more quickly than in ground beds, so hopefully we can start planting peas in the garden in the next couple weeks.

If you will be renewing your bed please call or visit the Recreation department to renew. The fee will once again be $40 for the season. If you need financial assistance let us know. Please complete your registration by April 17th.

If you have anyone you know who is interested in having a bed, please have them contact the Recreation department to be placed on the waitlist.

If you are not planning on renewing your bed for the 2015 season please respond to this e-mail and let us know as well.”

Songbirds of the Northeast – Medway Library

If you’re free tonight, stop by the Medway Public Library at 7:00 PM for a great program!

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Supported in part by a grant from the Medway Cultural Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, naturalist John Root will be speaking about Songbirds of the Northeast.  His presentation will feature both photos and recordings to help us learn to recognize various species by their songs and calls.  John will also share information about these birds’ intriguing behaviors, and as a bonus, plants for “birdscaping” your yard will be available for sale!

This program is free and open to the public.  The Medway Public Library is located at 26 High Street in Medway.  We’ll see you there!

Short Sales 101

We’ve all heard about short sales in today’s market.  While lots of buyers are intrigued by the chance to get a home at a big discount, it’s not the way to go for everyone.  There are a few things you should keep in mind if you’re considering buying a property in a short sale transaction.

There is nothing short about a short sale.  The “short” in the name is a reference to the mortgage lender’s willingness to accept less money for the home than they are owed, not to the time period from offer to closing.  An offer to purchase a short sale must be accepted by the seller AND approved by the lender, which can add months to the process.  If more than one mortgage lender has an outstanding loan on the property, or if the property has other liens attached to it, things get even more complicated and take even longer.  In other words, if you have a home to sell before you can buy, or you have to close on your new home by a specific date, a short sale is not for you.

Inspect carefully.  Sellers in financial difficulties often attempt short sales as a last resort before foreclosure.  In many cases (but not all), a seller in financial trouble hasn’t kept up with the maintenance of their home, so the buyer could be on the hook for expensive repairs.  Pay particular attention to the results of your home inspection, and be prepared for the fact that a major defect uncovered in the inspection process probably won’t result in a price reduction.  Since the mortgage lender is already taking a loss on the property, they aren’t usually inclined to reduce the price even further due to any needed repairs.

Call in the pros.  An experienced real estate attorney is always a good person to have on your side in a home purchase, but especially in a short sale.  Many short sale offers are rejected or countered by the lender, and having an experienced professional negotiate on your behalf is a great way to improve your chances of getting to the closing table successfully.

That said, if you have flexibility, funding, and patience, a short sale can be a great option.  Ask your Realtor® about short sales near you!

First day of Spring!

Today marks the spring equinox and the official first day of Spring.  It doesn’t look all that springlike out there yet, but we’re definitely on our way – every day brings us closer to blooming flowers, warm sunshine, and singing birds.  (A few of them have started already!)

Make the most of the waiting period by planning out any changes you’d like to make to your existing garden, researching new suppliers if needed, and ordering seeds and plants (most suppliers won’t ship live plants until the time is right in your area to plant them).  This is also a great time to start seedlings indoors, if you’re so inclined.  When the warm weather finally hits, you’ll be well on your way.