Lee Sells and Speaks More...

Lee Ginsburg is an award-winning Realtor with 30 years experience in Peninsula residential real estate. With the utmost attention to detail, Lee delivers expert marketing, negotiating, and management of all financial matters. With a strong commitment to honesty, fairness and hard work, Lee has successfully helped first time home buyers, move up buyers and investors.

Lee’s goal is to exceed your expectations. For the latest community information, please subscribe and see how Lee can help you.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Lee Ginsburg on choosing a home loan


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Do I Need An Agent?

I was at a recent home buying workshop and someone asked if she needs an agent.

In the Bay Area the buyer does not pay for the agent to help them find a home, help them negotiate; walk them through the process, etc. The buyer also does not pay the agent for helping them digest the comparable properties, or get inside information concerning the home or the comparables, educate them on the neighborhood, and more. The buyer never pays the agent anything. The seller’s agent pays the buyer’s agent for assisting them in selling the home, but the agent has a fiduciary duty and obligation to their client, the buyer.

So why wouldn’t you want someone to do all the dirty work, to bounce ideas off of, and to pick their brains with no cost to you.
Every transaction is different. The buyer’s agent does all of the above and more depending on each individual situation.


The most important task the buyer’s agent performs but hardly mentioned, is helping the buyer maintain their emotions. I have seen buyer’s get so excited about a home that they would pay anything for it. Well maybe not anything but more than necessary. A good agent will protect the buyer by making them see reality. On the other hand they might be offended by the seller’s response and might react by cancelling the transaction or respond negatively and blow the deal. An agent is the buffer.

An agent will help the buyer see through the seller’s messy home to see the bones and layout of the home. An agent will keep the buyer focused on the purpose of buying a home, facing reality and prevent them from getting sidetracked. I remember helping a newly married couple with a baby purchase their first home. They liked the well decorated home in a not so good area. They were not familiar with the area. They were prepared to write an offer and I did not want to discourage their enthusiasm. I suggested on the way home we drive by again. We did and they calmed their emotions and changed their thoughts on their own.

Even in this age of the web, Real Estate is still a relationship business. An experienced agent has contacts and often can find out about the seller’s bottom line, other offers, and the true selling price of the comparable homes (not necessarily the sold price in public records). An offer from an experienced agent with a good reputation will be reviewed more seriously than a part time agent or an out of area agent. An experienced agent in the area is familiar with the customs of the area. They are familiar with the area. I know of an instance that a buyer got very excited about a home with an empty lot next door. The buyer was excited until their experienced agent told them previous to the empty lot a home very similar to the one they are looking at sat there. An experienced agent with a good reputation among other agents and familiar with the area and has a lot more to offer than the internet or a part time realtor friend. Hope you don’t mind another quick story of a buyer working their part time realtor friend. The agent not understanding the loan the buyers were getting requested a $15,000 credit from the seller. Due to the way the contract was worded the buyer’s lender would only allow a $5000 credit and the seller received the $10,000 difference.

I ask the buyer or seller for that matter thinking of representing themselves or using a friend: Would you ask a first year med student to operate on you. You know what they say about attorneys: It is a fool whom represents themselves.

Please remember a good experienced professional agent is on your side, can save you a lot of money and will only “survive” by selling you a home. They will make a good living by selling you, your friends and family a home. They are here not for a one time deal but to transform you the buyer into a raving fan whom will recommend them to others.

To learn more about me and the home buying or selling process please go to: www.leesellsmore.com

Happy Thanksgiving!!!


Friday, November 4, 2011

Dates to Remember

This Saturday Night Nov. 5 - Turn Your Clocks Back
Remember to turn your clocks back an hour on Sat. night so you’re in sync when you awake for your Sunday morning routine. You get an extra hour of sleep. It is also a good time to change your batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.


Thursday Nov. 17 -6:30 – FREE Information Workshop on Energy Rebates -180 El Camino Real, San Bruno

Energy Upgrade California, a statewide program launched in March that provides rebates to homeowners for carrying out home energy efficiency retrofits with approved contractors.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and utility ratepayer funds, is offering a Rebate for Energy Upgrades, The program is a partnership between the California Public Utilities Commission, California Energy Commission, Department of Energy, San Mateo County and PG&E. San Mateo County has recently announced that it will be doubling the program’s rebates. San Bruno is offering a Third Rebate. If you are considering replacing a Hot Water heater, Furnace, Windows, Roof, or adding insulation or solar this is the workshop you should not miss. You will learn how to reduce your energy costs by up to 40% and have someone else pay for the upgrades.

For More Information follow the links:




Thursday Nov. 17, -2-5PM - Free Home Buyer Workshop -
College of San Mateo, 1700 W. Hillsdale Boulevard, San Mateo, Bldg. 10 - Room 193
The San Mateo Association of Realtors will be hosting this workshop to help you understand the basics of how to buy a home - even if you’re not at that place in life yet – Home Ownership is still the key to reaching Financial Stability and in achieving the American dream. Now is the “Perfect Storm” with low interest rates, low housing prices and low down payments. Professionals in banking, title, credit, law and real estate will provide knowledge and interact with the public on the basics in planning for homeownership. No pre-registration required.

For Additional information follow the link: www.samcar.org/homebuyerworkshop


"It is Better To Own Real Estate and Wait Than Wait To Own Real Estate"



Sunday, October 2, 2011

Good Article on Light Bulbs

I just read this article on light bulbs. 

I went to Orchard Supply recently to purchase a light bulb and left with a head ache.

I wish I had this article and hope you find it helpful.

I am not able to remember it all so I am going to print out a copy next time I need a light bulb.

follow the link http://tinyurl.com/3ekxzfy

light bulb


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Great Loan Options are Here!!!

Dear Homeowners and Potential Home Buyers,

I want to let you know of a great opportunity. Interest rates!!!

Interest rates are at record lows. We have been hearing that for a few years and our government plans to keep it way for a few more. With that said mortgage interest rates do fluctuate daily.

Many people think loans are difficult to get. That is a misnomer. Just prove you can afford the payments and you get the loan. The bank might ask lots of questions and request lots of papers but they are willing to offer you a loan and guarantee to hold the same price for the next 30 years. Do you know of another product or service that guarantees the price for the next 30 years?

30 year fixed rates today are 4.25-4.5%. For your knowledge a 1% increase will affect a $500,000 loan by about $300. A 10% price adjustment will affect your payment by about $250.000. I am trying to show the influence of interest rate on your monthly payment.


Many people believe you need 20% down payment or equity for refinancers to get a loan. Another misnomer, that is not correct. With all that has happened in our banking system it is unbelievable but you can still obtain a loan with only 3.5% down payment or equity. For homeowners considering refinancing you can get a $500,000 loan if your home is valued at $520,000 or more. For home buyers with $20,000 saved up you can possibly purchase a home valued at $520,000. Not bad. Let me give you some of the caveats. Any loan with less than 20% equity or down payment the lender will require Mortgage Insurance (MI). I have been talking about equity and I want to make sure we all know what equity is. It is the difference between the value of your home less what your loan balance is. Back to Mortgage Insurance; it goes away after you have built up 20% equity. Depending on the loan this 20% equity can be accomplished from upgrades, appreciation or paying down the loan. This is very important to ask your lender. I neglected to mention that mortgage insurance is tax deductible. Depending on your loan specifics Mortgage Insurance is about 1%. Some loans will have an upfront premium as well. Mortgage Insurance and the premium are deductible. Some people have told me they would prefer to save the 20% rather than pay mortgage insurance. I do not believe in that thought. Not many are good savers. Not many have income to support savings of $20,000 or more a year. Please keep in mind, owning a home is saving because with every monthly payment you are paying down the loan. I call it Forced Savings. Also if you buy now and you can still put your savings toward the loan balance to get the mortgage insurance terminated earlier. I am afraid for those people saving for that “20%” that home values will increase and they will need even more savings. Also while you are saving you are throwing out money by paying rent. Rents will continue to increase and you can get your home purchase costs fixed for the next 30 years. In fact it will go do down when the mortgage insurance is terminated. I understand this gets a little complicated. You might get information from someone that purchased 10 years ago and just like cell phones and technology loans have changed substantially. If you think this is something you might be interested or just want more information in I suggest you run and not walk because the 3.5% down loan is a Government backed and there is talk of changes. Call your favorite Realtor or your lender to get the facts on your specific situation.

I do want to bring to your attention a super opportunity for some people. The adjustable rate loan. In a recent Zillow survey 57% of the people questioned did not know how adjustable loans work. You can get a loan in the mid to high two’s fixed for 5 years or so. These are not teaser rates like we had back when things were out of control. These are not negative amortization loans like we had back when. These are loans for people willing to take on some risk in exchange for a low rate. You speak with people who have an adjustable loan for a while and they are thrilled. Their rates go down annually. Today’s adjustable rate loans are really hybrid. They are fixed for a limited time, often 5 or 7 years and then adjust annually. They all have a maximum rate they can increase to and a maximum annual increase. Commonly it is 5% above the start rate. Today the adjustable rate is about 1.5% or more, less than the 30 year fixed. This can be a great loan if you know your income will be increasing, you will be getting an inheritance; you will be relocating or just are comfortable with risk. Not only will your payments be substantially less with this type of loan you can be approved for your “Dream Home”, because some lenders will use the current rate to approve you. This can also be a good option someone refinancing a small balance. A suggestion from a lender I work with is to put the money you are saving on this loan vs. a 30 year loan towards the principal. When the loan adjusts it will be based on the remaining balance. I don’t think many people are aware of the savings with this type of loan.


One more type of loan I want to bring to your attention is the 15 or 20 year fixed loan amortized over the same time. With this loan your payments will be more than the 30 year loan but you will be paying for half the time; saving you in the long run about 30%. This is great for people considering retiring soon. Last quarter Lending Tree notes that 34% of refinancers used this loan. Keith Gumbinger of HSH Associates, a mortgage research company says because rates on 15-year mortgages are so low, some borrowers may be able to refinance to a shorter term without increasing monthly payments

And one more came to my mind. There is an energy efficient loan. With this loan you can have energy efficient improvements (windows, furnace, and insulation) financed for the term of your loan on top of the standard loan. No extra down payment, no qualifying ratio, no appraisal, no extra time and little to no extra costs. Similar to that is the 203K Home Improvement Loan. This is used when the home really needs work and possibly a bank would not even loan on it in its current condition. With this loan your home is appraised and your loan amount is determined as if the improvements are complete. You get the contractor quotes and the contractor gets paid through escrow as the work is completed. I have not been involved with this type of loan yet, but am been very intrigued by it. This does need some extra time and maybe some extra closing costs.

Loans are being offered to people with credit scores in the mid 600’s. The best rates are for loans with 20% down and under $417,000. The rate inches up a bit on loans to $625,500, and then a bit more above that. No matter what your situation is, rates are excellent. Talk to your lender about the different choices. In the Zillow survey 44% of people questioned said they did not have confidence in the mortgage knowledge. Ask Questions please. The guidelines and procedures have changed since the last time you purchased or the person advising you. I think too often people are geared towards the 30 year fixed with 20% down when there are many other and possibly better options. For investors and condominium owners the guidelines are slightly different.

I personally do not do loans. I work with several very qualified, knowledgeable and efficient lenders. Please do not hesitate to contact me or your favorite Realtor for their info or any real estate related concerns.
Here are links I found interesting on loans:

I would love to hear from you concerning your loan option choice.

Homeowner Special:

light bulb

San Mateo County is offering to double energy efficient rebates

And now San Bruno is also offering its residents a direct match for the Energy Upgrade rebates, essentially tripling the incentives.

"It is Better to Own Real Estate and Wait than to Wait to Own Real Estate."

Lee Ginsburg


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Good New Finally!!! - New Energy Rebates

Most of us living in San Mateo County are living in homes forty or fifty years old. Older homes are always in need of some repairs or upgrading. I recently heard that San Mateo County is announcing on Monday that they will match some of PG&E’s energy rebates. You can get up to $8000 in rebates. Not sure if you have to rebuild the entire home to get $8000 but here is the info.

These will double the currently offered rebates. Some upgrades might even qualify for Federal tax Credits. I have read there is even low cost financing with income qualifications.

Attic insulation, furnace and water heater replacement, roof, solar energy and more may qualify. It is certainly worthwhile to look into if you are considering doing some work.

Follow the links for additional information.





San Bruno - Tuesday, August 23 rd 7-8:30 p.m.

Burlingame - Wednesday, August 24th 7-8:30 p.m.

Half Moon Bay - Wednesday, September 14th 7-8:30 p.m.

San Carlos - Wednesday, September 28th 7-8:30 p.m.


"It is Better to Own Real Estate Than Wait To Own Real Estate"


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Monte Verde Student Wins Doodle for Google



Our very own Monte Verde School wins big. Monte Verde is in San Bruno but is part of the South San Francisco School District. It serves Monte Verde area of San Bruno and a portion of Westborough area of South San Francisco. What did they win? Monte Verde Elementary School won a $25,000 technology grant and 7 years old, second grade student, Mateo Lopez won $15,000 college Scholarship. This is the results of “Doodle for Google” contest. 107,000 entrants ranging from Kindergarten to twelfth grade and a second grader from our back yard won. San Bruno and South San Francisco residents should be proud of the Monte Verde School and home grown Mateo Lopez. Hurray!!! Congratulations!!!

For additional information please click on the link: http://digitallife.today.com/_news/2011/05/20/6676677-doodle-4-google-winner-matteo-lopez-7



Is a Home Warranty Beneficial?

In a Real Estate transaction quite often the buyer or seller discuss with their agent the cost, the coverage, the pros and the cons of a Home Warranty. Many people think Home Warranty is the best creation since chopped Liver. I am not a fan of the Home Warranty Companies. I have found they try to find any excuse not to pay. With a Home Warranty you must pay a service call of approximately $50.00. The cost of a home warranty from most of the major companies is about $500 with a few options. Let’s say you purchased an older home and needed service 3 times. That would be a cost of $650.00. When I have called a service technician to my home with no warranty the cost is usually $150 for a total of $450 for 3 calls vs.. the $650 with the warranty. If the buyer can negotiate for the seller to pay for it then you come out a winner but if not it is not the best financial investment although it could be very comforting. Please do not get me wrong, I have had a client get a water heater replaced so it can be beneficial.




The following article was in the San Jose Mercury News recently and I thought it had some very good ideas on the search for good Home Warranty Companies.


The following are some of the major Home Warranty Companies servicing the San Francisco Bay Area:
http://www.homewarranty.com/ http://homewarranty.ahs.com/?mp=Google&ovchn=GGL&ovcpn=Competitors&ovcrn=sr3_167478364go+fidelity+home+warranty&ovtac=PPC&SR=sr3_167478364_go&gclid=CIWgzfzVhKkCFUgaQgodqk8SoA http://home-warranty.firstam.com/?code=BM51


Friday, February 18, 2011

Is the Bay Area Home Buyer Obsessed with School Scores

Many homebuyers in San Mateo, San Bruno, Burlingame, Millbrae and up and down the peninsula purchase their homes based on school scores. I am not sure if API, Academic Performance Index, (http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/ap/ ) scores is an accurate evaluation method to determine a young person’s education. I find the API scores of a school to determine the college you child goes to as reliable as a City’s Median home prices is in determining the value of your home. Homes in a city are varied and encompass a large diversified area just like a school’s diversified student enrollment and have high and low performing students.

kids in school

Many of our public schools have a large population of intelligent non- English speaking immigrants. Teachers are trained and cater to that specific group and they also teach to the more advanced student by offering enrichment classes, honor classes, etc. Both of my son’s went to a public High School in San Mateo that possibly has the lowest scores amongst the San Mateo High Schools. They both graduated and went to very good schools. In their graduating class several students were accepted into Harvard, Stanford, MIT and more of the top schools. Some of their friends went to a private high school, were not happy, did not perform well and transferred out. A peninsula high school with a rating of 10 has had an epidemic of suicides. Top scores is not the final answer.

I think some parents feel if their child goes to a high achieving school their child will be a high achiever. I believe an educated, happy and successful child comes more from the family and home not from a school’s API scores. A parent must spend quality time with their child as a person and also as a teacher. They must work as a team with the teacher. They must read to them and listen to the child read. They must review homework and make sure it is completed. President Obama said in his state of the union address (http://www.whitehouse.gov/state-of-the-union-2011), "We need to teach our kids that it's not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair."

I believe some home buying parents depend too much on school scores. I think they should also look at the parent participation, the teacher/student ratio, the teacher relationship with the students and parents, the extracurricular classes, sports, clubs, spirit, music, language classes, art programs, fund raising, and more. They should visit the school and sit in on the class. We must keep in mind some people will perform better when they are the high performer amongst their peers rather than an average performer in a high performing peer group. Often a high self esteem will lead to a more successful, happy and satisfied adult. And isn’t that our goal.


Many buyers whom prefer a high performing school are on the right track. They are probably the same parents that will begin the leaning process in their home. They will read, do math, get involved in class projects and in the school. They will bring up their children with the idea education is of vital importance. In my home it was understood that after High School it was college. In today’s home after college it is advanced degrees. As caring parents we must understand our children. Not every child needs to go to college to be a successful adult. Many of the schools are beginning to offer vocational classes again. I applaud that. There are culinary, mechanic, nursing and other very good programs.

As Margaret Lavin writes in the San Jose Mercury news, http://www.mercurynews.com/san-mateo-county/ci_16994346?nclick_check=1 "we need to talk to our children. Often that is difficult as we are working long hours and try to have a life also but tete-a-tete with your school aged children is important."

I will close with a quote from Margaret; “Standardized test scores influence teachers reputations, school funding, and of course Real Estate Prices. Being a brainiac is great, but being personable and well rounded also leads to future happiness and success.”

I would love to hear your thoughts.



Wednesday, February 9, 2011

2010 Remodeling Cost as Compared to Resale Value

Remodeling Magazine annually researches the cost of remodeling with the help of Home Tech Information Systems. They also research the value remodeling adds with the help of the National Association of Realtors. They put this information together by regions. For a complete report please go to http://www.remodeling.hw.net/2010/costvsvalue/national.aspx

Below are the results for the San Francisco region.
A small difference in the size or scope of a project, or in the quality of finishes and accessories you choose, can dramatically affect the cost.

The “value” of a project at resale is always subject to forces that are difficult to predict. Changing how a space is used may meet the immediate needs of the current homeowner, but may be at odds with what prospective buyers are looking for. How the value of a remodeling project is perceived also depends on a variety of factors that traditionally affect home values, including the condition of the rest of the house, the value of similar homes nearby, and the rate at which property values in the surrounding area are fluctuating. Comparable values are particularly difficult to judge in the current economic climate, in which the effect on the value of surrounding homes of foreclosed properties and short sales are part of the equation. The mere presence of a large number of unsold homes, whether new or existing, well-maintained or distressed, can have a constricting effect on surrounding home values.

The Cost vs. Value Report provides an accurate snapshot of the general housing market, but it cannot be applied accurately to an individual remodeling project for your particular home. Resale value is only one factor among many that a homeowner must take into account when making the decision to remodel. I think the best course of action is to obtain construction cost estimates from reputable local remodelers and then give me a call at 877-Lee-Sells to discuss the value it will add to your home.

Project Job Cost Resale value % recouped

Attic Bedroom $70.938 $74,206 1 04.6%

Bath Addition $54,927 $44,476 81.0% ­

Bath Remodel $22,014 $22,440 101.9% ­

Deck Addition $18,636 $18,987 101.9%

Deck Addition $15,091 $17,025 112.8% ­

Entry Door $ 4,197 $3,438 81.9%

Entry Door $ 1,546 $2029 112.8%

Family Room $113,274 $109,553 96.7% ­

Garage Addition $79,104 $64,208 81.2%

Garage Dr. Repl.$1,579 $1,992 126.1%

Home Office $34,574 $21,641 62.6%

Major Kitchen Remodel $71.015 $67,583 95.2% ­

Minor Kitchen Remodel $25,039 $27,816 111.1% ­

Master Suite Addition $143,853 $123,003 85.5% ­

Roof Replacement $28,699 $21,821 76.%

Siding Replacement $14,931 $11,111 74,4