Things You Need to Know When Selling Your House to Family

If you are thinking about selling your home to a family member, here are a few things you should consider:

  1. An inspection and an appraisal.

While your family members may be familiar with the house and love it as much as you do, no one wants a surprise. An inspection may reveal things you may not even know. For example, you’re not going to intentionally sell your son or daughter a house with a mold problem, but since mold tends to hide in the walls, you may not be aware the house has an issue.


As for the appraisal, you and the family member you’re selling to probably aren’t aware of what the house is worth. In this case, you may intentionally sell the house below market value because, after all, it’s family. However, you definitely don’t want to overcharge a family member.


  1. Your relative may have to pay a gift tax.

You may want to give your family member a break on the price of the house because it’s your gift to them, typically called a gift of equity.


It is important to review your situation with an accountant.

Selling to a family member isn’t as easy as simply handing the keys over and walking away from the house. It’s a complicated process. An experienced real estate lawyer, such as Michael Gutman, can help make the process easier.

  1. Preparing a contract:

Its important to have a contract to outline the agreement between the buyer and seller.  The buyers mortgage company will require a contract.  It’s a family matter, and you may consider the contract just a formality, however, a properly prepared contract will help the buyer and seller understand and allocate their responsibilities.




Preparing Your Home to Sell in The Spring

It may be winter, but it’s never to early to prepare your home for the spring market. Before you put your home up for sale, here are a few things you should do.


This may sound obvious, but the little things do matter. While you probably don’t usually scrub the windows inside and out or make your mirrors spotless, going above and beyond in your cleaning will make your home more appealing to the buyer.

Declutter and Organize

We all know most houses are well lived in. If we’re being honest, we all have a pile of old magazines or mail we keep meaning to organize. However, buyers want the illusion of a perfectly kept house, so they can imagine their family living in the house you are selling. This means keeping on top of your mail, so it doesn’t pile up in the office or kitchen and keeping the children’s toys in a drawer. By putting stuff away, you’ll avoid the last second scramble to put things away the day before an open house.


Updating your house doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive. It can be as easy as painting the walls, putting new grout in the shower, and installing new light fixtures, door knobs, and switch plates.

Curb Appeal

The first thing buyers see when they arrive at your house is the outside, so it’s important to make a good first impression. To do this, make sure the yard is well kept. While you may think there’s nothing you can do to your lawn in the winter, there are some winter treatments available.


By cleaning, decluttering, updating, and adding curb appeal to your house during the winter, you will be ready for homebuyers when they come knocking on your door in the spring. When that time comes, make sure you contact Michael Gutman to help with your Real Estate Law needs.

Where to Take Unused Paint

You’ve found the perfect house for your expanding family or have decided to downsize in your retirement. There’s one problem. Before you move, you have to pack and clean your house. During this process, you find several half-full paint cans piled in closets you rarely open and corners of your basement you never visit. What do you do?

Most things you don’t want can be thrown into the garbage without much thought. However, while it may be tempting to do that with unused paint, it is dangerous because once that paint goes to a landfill, it will leak chemicals into the ground.

Instead of throwing it in a dumpster, it is a much better idea to bring it to the Monmouth County Recycling Center, officially called the Monmouth County Reclamation Center, at 600 Asbury Avenue in Tinton Falls. We should note that’ some paints are accepted while others aren’t. Most liquid paints, which includes oil base, enamel, and spray paint, are accepted.  

You may have noticed latex paint is missing from this list. The good news is that you don’t have to take it anywhere. While you shouldn’t dump half a can of wet paint directly into the dumpster, it is easy to prepare latex paint for disposal. All you need to do is let it dry out. This won’t take much time if there’s just a little bit at the bottom of the can, but we’ve all bought much more paint than we ended up using. Waiting for a significant amount of to paint dry in a can could take days. A convenient way to dry the paint faster is to put it out in the sun with kitty litter, newspaper, or something else that can absorb paint.

For those unsure of the proper way to dispose their paint and other possibly toxic household waste, a list is available on the Monmouth County Reclamation website of what is acceptable and what is unacceptable.

Cost of Purchasing A Home Blog

Are you a first-time home buyer? The process can seem daunting. With all the fees associated with the closing process, it’s easy to forget or not even know that on a $300,000 house closing fees can range from $6,000- $10,000. Other costs to consider in those additional costs are recording costs, lender fees, home inspection, legal fees, survey fees, real estate taxes, home owner’s insurance, settlement fees, and possibly more depending on your situation. Keep in mind that while you can take out a mortgage to break up the cost of the physical house, the closing costs are a one-time fee that you pay upfront.

In addition to closing costs, there are other expenses to take into consideration. If you’ve always lived in an apartment, something as simple as receiving utility bills for water and heat can catch you off guard because your landlord used to hide them in the cost of rent. For the average American family, utilities can cost upwards of $3,900 a year. That’s not including cable and internet, which you’ll want too.

If you are looking to buy a home in a development, you should prepare to pay homeowners association (HOA) fees, which can range from $200- $300 or more a month. It is important to think about what you are willing to pay these organizations because in more expensive neighborhoods these payments can rival your monthly mortgage. However, HOA fees aren’t the annoyances they may seem because they cover maintenance costs for complex improvements and landscaping, which you probably don’t want to do yourself in the sweltering summer heat.

Need help tracking these costs and making sure they stay within your budget? Call the experts at Riley and Gutman at 732-431-0300 for answers to your home buying questions.

Fun Fall Things to Do in Jersey Blog

With Fall right around the corner, it’s time to start trading in your board-shorts for jeans.  The change of seasons also comes with a change of activities to do around the area.  For instance, places all around the state during the fall time, such as Battleview Orchards in Freehold or  Eastmont Orchards in Colts Neck offer pumpkin picking, apple picking, and even berry picking.  In conjunction with picking your own apples and pumpkin, exploring farms with hayrides is another great activity to do with your loved ones and families.

New Jersey also has a wide variety of wineries that host great fall festivals from September through November.  For example, Laurita winery hosts a number of fire pit, food truck, and wine festivals during the fall time.  Located in New Egypt, Laurita’s food truck festivals are great fun for those of all ages.  Not only are there a huge variety of great food trucks to choose from, there are item vendors, face painting stations, and a line dancing class for those of all ages.  For the hiking enthusiasts, or those who like to see the leaves change color, NJ has a ton of hiking trails to choose from including the 72.2 miles of Appalachian Trial that runs through the Garden State.

While the end of summer may be a bit of a bummer for some, there are still a lot of things to do in New Jersey during the fall time.  The great thing about the fall time in New Jersey is that many people don’t truly realize all the things Jersey has to offer.  We’re mainly known for our beaches and boardwalks, but if you look hard enough and do your research, you’ll find that there are many things to do in Jersey all year round.

Selling Real Estate in the Fall

When it comes to selling your house, the seasons absolutely matter.  As fall and winter start to come into play, you have to consider the shorter days and cooler weather.  When listing your home in these months, try to make sure that you use photos from the spring or summer time.  Pictures from this period shows potential buyers how the property will look like in other seasons, plus foliage and trees without leaves around the home isn’t as eye catching as those in full bloom.  Maintaining your property is also important. Leaf removal and keeping up on yard work will boost your property’s curb appeal.

Preventive maintenance is also important for the colder months as well.  Make sure the water boiler and heating systems are functioning properly before you have a house showing. Another thing to keep in mind this time of year is lighting.  The days become shorter and trying to sell a dark house can be difficult.  Having adequate lighting throughout your home is beneficial in all aspects.  Too much seasonal décor can be a turnoff for buyers as well.  The fall and winter are primetime for holiday decorations, so it is recommended to avoid distracting decorations or religious themes while listing during this time of the year.

Flexibility is huge. The school year is a busy time for parents which can throw off potential meetings. The more flexible you are, the more likely you have many potential buyers seeing your home while it is on the market.  A trusted real estate attorney can assist you in the process of buying or selling.  If you’re trying to list or buy your first home, feel free to contact our office today and we would be more than happy to help you with the process.

Best Beaches in New Jersey

When it comes to choosing the best beach to go to at the Jersey Shore, the decision might be difficult because of the vast selection of incredible locations.  New Jersey is home to many of the most iconic beaches in the country and because of that, people from all over the tri-state area flock to Jersey beaches in the summer time.  We are going to try to select the top five beaches worth visiting and spending your day/night enjoying the iconic jersey shore atmosphere.


5. Wildwood

Wildwood is one of the more popular shore hangouts because of its beautiful beach and almost 2 mile long boardwalk. There’s something to do for everyone in the family.

4. Spring Lake

Spring lake, located just south of Belmar/Lake Como, is a nice and quiet beach which makes it a prime spot for summer rentals for friends and families.

3. Long Beach Island (LBI)

LBI is a popular spot for Jersey shore natives who want to go a little more south. Sometimes it can be crowded, but the wide beaches make up for it and it is a great place to learn how to surf.

2. Asbury Park

This shore community has been revitalized and has become a popular day/night life destination with several excellent restaurants, bars, and a great music scene.  With new places opening every month, Asbury Park is worth a visit.

1. Cape May

Cape May has been called “One of The Prettiest Beach Towns” in the country by Conde Nast Traveler. It is the perfect destination families and couples alike.


You can’t go wrong with any of these choices as they highlight the best of the Jersey Shore. While this list may only be the top 5, there are dozens of great beaches to see this Summer!

Monmouth County Compost Piles


Recycling and doing your part to save the planet is more important than ever.  Depending on the type of work you do, much of the waste generated during your average day can be recycled, such as office paper, cartridges from computers and printers, cardboard, glass, metals, plastics, wood, construction material, and other waste.

Monmouth County Recycling and the Park System have come together to develop a home composting demonstration site located in Deep Cut Gardens in Middletown, NJ.  You can learn practical composting tips in a 45-minute workshop at the Backyard Composting event for Monmouth County residents.  There are composting units which are both commercially available and home-built so that you can choose the composting system that best suits you.


Benefits of Compost Piles

There are many benefits to compost piles for both your home and for the environment in general.  Compost can create a rich fertilizer for your garden and yard.  In a small amount of time, your composted scraps become a nutrient-rich, organic fertilizer that can be sifted and used to improve all aspects of your landscape.  In addition, it is also an economic benefit since you no longer have to purchase fertilizer at the store, and gardens fed with compost also require less water and less fertilizers to produce the same amount of growth as a garden without composted matter.  Compost can reduce toxins as well.  Soils that have been exposed to toxic mater, like pesticides, regenerate into healthy soil faster if composted soil is added to the mix.  It also prevents the spread of these contaminates into water sources and nearby plants.  In addition, composting can also reduce pollution!  By keeping organic matter out of landfills, it reduces the amount of methane production happening in garbage disposal areas in the county.

Monmouth County Parks

Monmouth County’s Park System offers several fantastic parks to visit.  From Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park in Long Branch to Historic Walnford in Upper Freehold, the park system offers over 30 parks to choose from.  All parks are open from 7 a.m. to dusk, and change seasonally or depending upon special activities in a park.

Turkey Swamp Park, located in Freehold, is a 2,263-acre wooded park that was acquired and developed with campers in mind.  The major attraction of this park is the 17-acre lake which is great for fishing, boating, and ice-skating.  The park also features miles of trails, an archery range and playgrounds for the kids!  Much of the park is forested by pitch pine and oak trees with an understory of bracken fern, pepper bush, blueberry, and catbrier.  Many of the plants and animals associated with the NJ Pine Barrens can be found at Turkey Swamp Park.

Manasquan Reservoir, located in Howell, is a source of water for municipalities and utilities for Monmouth County.  However, it is a great park with a ton of activities to do.  The 770-acre reservoir is part of a larger 1,208 acre site that includes wood and wetlands, a 5-mile perimeter trail, fishing and boating areas, and a visitor center.  In addition, there is also a 1-mile nature trail, playgrounds, ice-skating in the winter, and kayak and rowboat rentals.  Spend the day fishing, boating, or walking the trails at this beautiful spot in southern Monmouth County.  The Manasquan Reservoir is now the most visited site in the Monmouth County Park System, over one million visitors come to the Manasquan Reservoir every year.

These are only a couple of the parks that Monmouth County has to offer. To learn more about the parks, visit the Monmouth County Parks website. The parks are a great way to explore on nature walks, as well as meet new people and explore different interests with a handful of activities to choose from.  Get out and take advantage of the park system today!

Meet The Michael Gutman Real Estate Team

Our primary practice is residential real estate.  We can provide representation to buyers and sellers of residential homes as well as be the trusted team to support a Real Estate Agent.  Our office is properly staffed to handle the complex needs of today’s real estate closing.  We have a team of 5 full time professionals.

When a new contract arrives, Sharon reaches out to our client to let them know we are in receipt of their contract and send them a welcome letter and buyer or seller questionnaire.  Sharon also is there after the closing, as part of our post closing process, sending out deeds and title policies to clients.

Our attorney, Michael Gutman, reaches out to every client to personally review the contract and sends out an attorney review letter customized to our client’s needs.

We have three paralegals working as a team to keep every file moving …

Jennie Davis works closely with clients regarding home inspections and tracking the various contingency dates.

Denise Remeta spearheads our OPRA requests in an effort to find open permits and the like. Denise is a primary point of contact for callers ensuring our clients get personal attention.

Denise McGurk who’s been a paralegal for over 35 years is qualified as a title producer and underwriter.  Her background in title and navigating the often complicated issues of deeds, mortgages, and estates is unparalleled. Denise coordinates the closing with the title companies, lenders, attorneys, and our real estate agents.

It takes a team to get to the closing table.  We are extremely proud of our dedication as a team to helping our clients through the trials, tribulations, and joy of buying or selling their home.

Whether you are a first time home buyer or a Real Estate Agent, our team can be relied on to ensure that your real estate transaction runs as smoothly as possible.