Pacific Palisades is one of Southern California’s most upscale and picturesque neighborhoods. Its prime location between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Monica Mountains provides so many benefits that set this Los Angeles neighborhood apart. It has some of the most exquisite residences in the region, and many celebrities and high-profile individuals call it home.
Given the factors mentioned above, it would be easy to think that houses in Pacific Palisades sell themselves and there’s no doubt many are looking to buy property here. However, this is not to say that sellers can sit back, not make too much effort and the house will be sold. Sellers should be looking to capitalize on their properties and ensure that when they put their homes on the market, they are giving the property its best chance to sell quickly and for the best possible price. Buyers should ensure that they are giving themselves the best chance to snap up the home of their dreams.
The Need for Proper Etiquette
When selling or buying a property in Pacific Palisades, you don’t want to leave anything to chance. From the start, sellers and buyers want to put their best foot forward and present their properties, their representatives, and themselves in the best possible light. There is an etiquette involved in selling and buying a home and while not all necessarily need to be followed to the letter, it will help a seller’s or buyer’s chances significantly if they adhere to at least some of these practices. This includes respecting property boundaries, dressing appropriately, and asking relevant questions about the neighborhood and its amenities.
What is an Open House?
An open house is an event where buyers can view a home for sale without booking private showings. Typically, the seller’s listing agent or the sellers themselves (in the case of for-sale-by-owner) organize and host this event to showcase the property to prospective buyers. Since the aim of an open house is to draw as much attention and viewers as possible within a certain time, most open houses in Pacific Palisades take place on weekends usually around midday when viewers have more time to visit.
Open House Etiquette for Buyers
As a buyer visiting an open house, there may be the sense that this visit is not as important as a private viewing. There is less obligation, if any, and you may even view the event similarly to window shopping. And it may be the case that your interest level in the property isn’t yet at the point where you think that etiquette is important.
However, if you find that the property is something you’d like to pursue further, it helps to make a good first impression.
1. Show up on time
It’s important to arrive at an open house in Pacific Palisades at the designated hours. If the schedule is from 12 P.M. to 5 P.M., don’t show up at 11:30 A.M. or 6 P.M. and expect to be given special treatment. While this may be granted, it may color the opinion of the seller or their agent, casting a little doubt on the reliability of the buyer. Showing up within the set time shows respect for the host and allows you to enjoy the property without feeling rushed.
2. Dress appropriately
An open house is not a formal event, but it’s best not to dress too casually. Wearing a semi-casual style is a safe bet and communicates a certain level of professionalism and credibility. Avoid wearing stained or ripped clothing. Though Pacific Palisades is a fairly relaxed area (it is a surfing neighborhood), you’ll want to show a level of seriousness when dealing with important matters, such as buying a property.
3. Register when you enter
Look for a sign-up sheet (or register online!) before starting your tour. This step allows you to share your contact information with the selling agent. If you like the house, providing your details can make the buying process easier. Signing up may also help keep you informed about any other houses that come up on the market. If you’ve expressed an interest by showing up to the open house you’re visiting, you may be alerted to similar properties if an agent has your details. Registering also protects the homeowner. They may not be present during an open house, and the agent cannot be everywhere at once, so leaving your information helps create a record in case damages occur.
5. Ask questions politely
Though the host will provide information about the property as you walk through the home, much of the exchange from the viewer will likely take the form of questions. By all means, don’t be afraid to ask what you need to know but do so in a polite non pushy way. A conversational tone is much more welcome than a demanding one and bear in mind that agents are also vetting buyers as well as showing the home.
The listing agent can provide information on the property’s average utility costs, why the current owner is selling, and whether there are any special assessments or other fees, as well as any information about the property. Ask about the neighborhood, nearby amenities, and the overall community feel. Inquire about specific topics of interest, ask follow-up questions, and show genuine interest in their responses. This will help you gather valuable information and build a rapport with the host.
6. Be courteous to other viewers
Open houses are for everyone, so you might not be the only viewer present in the house. When attending an open house, it’s basic etiquette to wait until the other guests leave the room before entering, it may be an idea to go to another part of the house if necessary. This facilitates the smooth flow of visitors and ensures a pleasant experience for everyone.
7. Be mindful of your words
Avoid making overly negative remarks about the house or its decor. Similarly, don’t display excessive admiration, as the seller might use that information to their advantage during negotiations. It’s a good idea to keep things pleasant and keep any negative comments to yourself.
8. Don’t overshare personal information
Casual conversation is fine, but sharing too much information can be a disadvantage. Avoid sharing details that could compromise your position. Ask your real estate agent to join you at open houses in Pacific Palisades if you feel that you’d like to address them rather than engage in a full-blown conversation with the host. Having your agent with you provides valuable insights and assistance in evaluating these upscale properties.
9. Don’t use the bathroom
This is a tricky one. On the one hand, it would seem perfectly fine to use the bathroom if needed, however, we’d advise that if at all possible, wait until after you leave the open house. Other potential buyers want to tour the house, including the bathroom, and spending too much time in the bathroom may make the other visitors uncomfortable. If you do need to use the bathroom, ask permission first. It’s very unlikely you’ll be refused, and asking helps mitigate any negative impression you might make.
10. Don’t overstay
Take a good look at the property, but don’t stay too long. Take notes, ask questions, and get a feel for the house. Make the most of your time there, since it may be a thrilling first step toward finding your dream home. It’s advisable to leave young children and pets at home when attending an open house. This allows you to focus on the property and avoid distractions. Arriving with children or pets may also be taken by the host as a sign that you’re not that interested in the property.
Open House Etiquette for Sellers
It’s critical that the host of the open house, whether that’s you or an agent, be as welcoming and charming as possible. It is also the host’s responsibility to ensure that the home is in top shape to welcome viewers. Here we’ll go through the etiquette as well as provide some fundamental tips that should be followed.
1. Clean the house thoroughly
This is an excellent opportunity to showcase your house, so make the most of it. Start by thoroughly cleaning all surfaces, including floors, walls, windows, kitchen countertops, drawers, and cabinets. Buyers will inspect every nook and cranny of your house, and you’ll want to leave a lasting impression. Moreover, a tidy home makes it easier for potential buyers to envision themselves living there.
2. Put away personal items
Don’t display too many personal photos or other personal memorabilia. If there is a historical piece that may add to the value of the home, that’s fine to leave out as you want to increase the value (both culturally and price-wise) of the property. However, an open house aims to allow viewers to get a feel for the home and their place in it. This becomes a little more difficult to do if everywhere they turn they are greeted with images that link the home to another family living there. There is a balance between, showing the property as a warm place where your viewer can make a home and showing that this property belongs to someone else.
Also, bear in mind that while viewers are potential buyers, they are still strangers and you don’t want any additional stress on your home-selling journey if something goes missing.
3. Welcome guests as they arrive
The host should give guests a warm welcome when they enter your home. Be ready for any questions, but don’t bombard them with too much information at first. As guests explore the property, prepare to answer any questions they may have about it. It’s also an ideal opportunity to discuss the local schools, restaurants, amenities, and recreational activities available in and around the neighborhood.
4. Leave the house
Trust your real estate agent with your open house in Pacific Palisades. They’re luxury home experts and know what they’re doing. As mentioned, buyers need to picture themselves living there, and that could be a little more difficult with you around. Take the day off and return after the event. If you’re relocating from another state or country, take advantage of exploring some of Pacific Palisades’ hidden gems if you haven’t yet.
5. Take your pets with you
Don’t leave them inside the house. It’s unsafe as the door will be opened regularly, and your pet could escape. Keeping them in a locked room hinders buyers from viewing the entire house and may not exactly be the conditions you or others may want for your pets.
6. Remove cars from the driveway
Parking your car on the street in front of your house or the garage is not a good idea. Again it’s a reminder of a family already living there and does not allow the viewer to see their own car parked outside their soon-to-be property. While viewers may come at the same time and take a parking space, if it’s possible to be free, the better.
7. Inform your neighbors
Telling your neighbors in advance about your open house has several benefits. First, it prepares them for increased traffic and people wandering around that day. You don’t want your open house to be complained about! In addition, if your neighbors know about it, they may avoid scheduling personal tasks such as tree-cutting or garage sales. Lastly, if you invite them, their presence can liven up the party, and they can share insights into the community with potential buyers. You may want to be cautious about this unless you explicitly trust your neighbors.
8. Serve snacks and refreshments
Pacific Palisades open houses usually take place on Sundays between 12 P.M. and 5 P.M., so consider offering snacks and drinks. The agents usually cover the costs of complimentary food given at open houses unless you offer to contribute. They’ll also be well-versed in deciding what type of food to serve, given the demographics and the likely target market of your viewers.
Think about food placement and scents. A back patio with beverages like wine may kindle thoughts about hosting backyard barbecues. While you may not want to provide alcoholic drinks, at least be able to provide water, or better yet coffee, or some form of soft drink.
Baked goods like cookies leave a pleasant smell in your house. It’s a great way to create a sense of home life while the host casually mentions that they were baked in your chef’s kitchen.
Note: Avoid baked goods that may cause allergic reactions, such as peanut butter cookies.
9. Give out goodie bags
Just like loot bags at kids’ birthday parties, these bags serve as thank-you gifts for your guests and remind buyers about your property. Include marketing brochures that promote your home, as well as coupons and samples from local businesses. Remember, buyers aren’t just evaluating your house; they’re also considering your neighborhood.
You can include hand soap samples from a local shop, baked goods from a nearby bakery, and restaurant coupons. Attach business cards for added exposure. An agent may choose to discreetly distribute these gifts to serious buyers, and if any are left, keep them for private showings.
10. Provide comment cards for quick feedback
The agent may not immediately answer your questions about the open house. They can provide information on visitors and time spent exploring the house, but getting genuine feedback from buyers and their agents may take some time.
Some buyers are hesitant to express their honest opinions about a house in front of a host, especially if the comment is less than praiseworthy. A comment card, however, might be the solution. These cards allow prospective buyers to address any concerns they may have about the home without speaking directly with your agent.
Whether they’re positive or negative, viewer comments can provide valuable insights into how the market is responding to your property.
Plan your Open House with James Respondek
For a successful open house in Pacific Palisades, partner with one of the area’s leading and most trusted real estate agents, James Respondek. A guiding force in the market since 1979, James has handled transactions for some of the region’s most coveted luxury homes. He has a proven track record of success and a sophisticated approach, which gives him an edge in the competitive Pacific Palisades real estate market.