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L.A.-area real estate agents are holding open mansions

Amid the market downturn, the public is welcome to see some properties listed for more than $10 million.

For Florence Mattar, each open house has a routine. She drives around the neighborhood placing signs, brings in fresh flowers, stocks the refrigerator with bottled water and sets out a sign-in sheet.

Similar scenes play out across Southern California every weekend, with one expensive exception. The Tuscan-style house she is “sitting,” to use the industry term, is listed at $21.9 million. And anyone is welcome to see it. All 9,691 square feet of it.

Whether spurred by the down housing market, the opportunity to promote themselves or a determination to make a sale, a select group of area real estate agents has raised the bar on public open houses above $10 million — to $12.9 million in Beverly Hills, Malibu and Brentwood Park, $18.9 million in Pacific Palisades and even higher in the “bird streets” area of the Hollywood Hills, where Mattar’s reclaimed stone, brick and wood listing sits serenely at the end of a cypress-lined driveway.

“You get more people because they are curious,” the Coldwell Banker agent said. “They’ve never stepped in a house that price.”

Through bubbles and busts, the open house has remained a key tool for buyers and sellers, at least for properties with price tags that are less than gold-plated.

Nearly half of recent buyers used open houses for information during their home search, according to the National Assn. of Realtors, and 15% found a home through an open house, a number that has held fairly steady since 2001.

When prices were headed for the stratosphere, a certain amount of open-house upscaling could be expected. Yet now, with home-profit expectations tumbling back to Earth, the public showing has gone even more up-market.

Simon Beardmore of Sotheby’s International Realty in Brentwood doesn’t typically hold public open houses at higher price points, but made an exception recently for a newly built 10,300-square-foot gated estate in Brentwood Park listed at $12.95 million. The first week it drew about 150 visitors, the second 100 and the third from 60 to 70.

“It was very appropriate because it’s a showcase for my client, who is a builder,” he said. The open houses have brought work for builder Paul Morrow; Beardmore said it was a good business decision for him, too, because showings often attract curious neighbors.

“I’m very lucky to be able to hold an open house at this price because it gives me a lot of face time with the clientele of the neighborhood,” he said.

A major reason to have an open house at a pricey property, agents agree, is to pick up more clients.

The showings attract people relocating from other states and countries, as well as locals, Beardmore said. “You’d be surprised at the high-profile people who come through on a Sunday open.”

Richard L. Peterson of San Francisco-based Market Psychology Consulting conjectured that dropping in at top-dollar open houses could become a pastime for the well-heeled, adding that “there may be something to being seen at such an open house.”

Before her foray into the $20-million-plus heights with the Hollywood Hills listing, the most expensive homes Mattar had ever held open were in the $6-million to $7-million range.

Built in 2006, the six-bedroom, eight-bathroom villa on a landscaped promontory of more than an acre is a second home. It was her idea to start holding the open houses and the owners agreed as long as they are out of town, Mattar said.

“They don’t live in it permanently, so there’s nothing personal,” she said of the house, which was furnished by a designer and has no art or other valuables.

Mattar, who also markets the home through all the usual channels, is realistic about her chances of selling it through an open house. “The probabilities are very slim,” she said, but in this market “you have to take that extra step. To go beyond the norm. To expose the property and show it and make it accessible to everybody.”

Drew Fenton of Hilton & Hyland in Beverly Hills has held public open houses this year on properties priced as high as $19 million. But don’t expect a genuine view of the occupants’ opulent lifestyle.

“The homes are staged,” Fenton said. “I even had a home owned by a celebrity in the bird streets we held open. There was nothing personal in the house.”

Jade Mills of Coldwell Banker in Beverly Hills has turned to public open houses at a newly constructed $12.95-million home in the Beverly Hills Post Office area (since lowered in price to $10.995 million) and a 10,000-square-foot home listed at under $20 million in Beverly Hills. She approached the sellers of her Beverly Hills listing about using public showings to give the home more exposure.

“Maybe we need to have the neighbors come over,” Mills said, “and maybe they’ll have friends who want to live in the neighborhood.”

The six-bedroom traditional house is staged and unoccupied, and Mills has multiple people manning the events. If too many people show up all at once, she’ll lock the door and put out a sign that says, “Doing a showing, please wait.”

Queen of the Palaces

An estate specialist at Coldwell Banker in Beverly Hills, Florence Mattar sells multi-million dollars properties to people who have nothing to do—but buy them! No wonder her website is: “Selling a property is all about exposure. My business comes from referrals from past and present clients all around the world, said Mattar. “I use innovative marketing to have the properties open and seen by as many people as possible. This past January I closed a listing on an incredible property and decided to go out of the box when it came to the open house—which is normally just for brokers and their clients. But, I took this gorgeous $22 million mansion and opened it to everyone. The entire property is such a masterpiece… why not let people enjoy the beauty of something that otherwise they would never see. Making that decision got the property sold because a person who came to see the home was from the LA Times. She wrote an article about what she had seen along with photos of the property. Possibly someone saw the article and decided to buy it. The article was titled, OPEN MANSIONS.” Mattar’s strategy is that someone sees a property and tells someone who tells someone and—it’s sold! According to Mattar what also sells a property is client service. As busy as this A-list broker is she has no assistant, no helper on her open house days; no she does it all herself. “My motto is that I put my heart and soul into my business and smart people who do business see that up front,” Mattar stated. “I am not trying to sell a house just for commission sake. There is more to it than that. I treat my clients like family because I love what I do and they deserve my very best. I don’t have any assistants because I would never want one of my listings to be shown by any one other than myself. Assistants make mistakes and I can’t tolerate any mistakes for my clients.” With more than 21 years in Beverly Hills real estate, Mattar has earned a reputation that offers clients calm assurance that they have made the right decision. By having always put her clients first—her business stays steady and on track despite any slow down in the real estate market.

“I personally don’t pay attention to bad news. I am a positive person and when I speak with clients I am positive as well,” Mattar explained. “I am not in denial, but in any market there is a reason why some people buy or some sell—it’s not just in this market. We live in southern California and it is the most desirable place on earth. People around the world want to live in Beverly Hills…talk about living in Beverly Hills. There has been some movement, but prices in this area are steady because of the location. People who want to live in a Beverly Hills mansion are prepared for the price tag attached.” Professionalism, integrity, market knowledge, marketing savvy, and effective negotiation skills—all essential qualities of a top real estate specialist. Would you expect any less from the person who is handling your multi-million dollar sale or buy? The mansion shown is owned by the lady who designed it and built it which is listed by Mattar. The marble is imported from different parts of the world and there is Mahogany wood throughout. The quality of craftsmanship and detail is beyond what most people have ever seen. The owner has kept the mansion in perfect condition; there is not one scratch, dent or blemish anywhere. The owner is a perfectionist and the entire property is extraordinary. “This is one of the most elegant estates ever built,” stated Mattar. “There is a grand domed entry, indoor and outdoor pools, a gym, two level library, game room, massage room and an underground disco and guard house. It is truly spectacular.” Located just five minutes from Rodeo Drive, in Holmby Hills, the home is more than 27,800 square feet sitting on more than an acre. Several fireplaces, high ceilings, patios overlooking lush gardens and a comfortable six bedrooms and 13.5 baths offer plenty of room to enjoy a life of the rich and famous.

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Things To Do Before Your Move

Moving is stressful enough when you consider all of the major chores that need to be tackled – the packing and transporting of all of your belongings – but when you add all of the smaller tasks that need to be accomplished, it can seem overwhelming. Here are some tips to follow before you move to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Once you know the date of your move, start arranging for phone and utility hookups. Phone companies typically need a few days to get you connected. Make arrangements for the internet connections and cable services you want and order extra phone jacks or cable outlets if necessary. Notify the Post Office that you are moving by filling out a change of address form. If you have set up automatic payments from your bank account, contact your creditors and inform them of any bank changes.

Clean out your refrigerator at least 24 hours before moving. Remove all racks so they don’t shift during transit. If you have an ice maker, disconnect the waterline and ensure that it is completely drained. Decide ahead of time how you will transport houseplants and pets.

Pack a box of essentials to get you through the first few days at your new home. Be sure to include clothes, medications, toiletries and kitchen utensils. This will spare you the aggravation of searching for necessities on moving day.


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Beverly Hills Palaces

Beverly Hills Palaces

90210 – it’s the only zip code known around the world. Long before Aaron Spelling’s iconic television show hit the airwaves, Beverly Hills was celebrated as the home of the most famous celebrities of all time. Now, the list of residents has grown to include current movie and television stars, sports heroes, musicians, and business leaders of all kinds. Many of the world’s most important people turn to Beverly Hills gated communities for privacy and peace of mind – and for good reason. It’s good to know that it’s still possible to get away from it all here in the Los Angeles hills, where you can relax with family and friends in a traditional setting reminiscent of old Hollywood. Experience majestic California as it once was – a land of rolling hills, quiet canyons and golden sunsets over the Pacific Ocean. You can enjoy it all from any of the many gorgeous Beverly Hills palaces and make it your very own kingdom.

It’s easy to become entranced by the allure of Beverly Hills. It’s the jewel in the crown of the Los Angeles real estate market – a piece of the history of the city itself. Beverly Hills palaces can be hard to come by, but with the help of the right realtor, it’s not difficult at all. As a seasoned Beverly Hills real estate specialist, I will work tirelessly to meet your needs and expectations. There’s no request too small or large – I always put my clients first.

Bel Air Houses

Bel Air Houses

Part of the Platinum Triangle, along with Beverly Hills and Holmby Hills, the community of Bel Air is one of the most exclusive areas in Los Angeles. From the community’s beginnings in the early 1920’s, Bel Air houses have been home to everyone from the Hollywood elite, to politicians, business people, and the world’s wealthiest entrepreneurs. Many Bel Air homes are secluded and private and feature large lots compared to area standards. There are two sections of Bel Air: Upper Bel Air and Lower Bel Air. Let’s learn a bit more about these areas.

Bel Air Houses For Sale

The Bel Air houses for sale found within the Upper Bel Air section often offer gorgeous views of the city, all the way out to Catalina Island. Located in the Santa Monica Mountains, Upper Bel Air real estate encompasses a wide range of property types including, ranch homes, smaller villas, and exceptional multi-story estate properties. On the other hand, you will find that Lower Bel Air houses were some of the first properties built in the area. With strict zoning laws that have not changed in over eight decades, lot sizes have remained intact and homes are often found on expansive and manicured lawns. In fact, there are many homes that you may not be able to see from the road. Homes in Lower Bel Air are the most sought-after in the area and are also the most expensive.

To learn more about the Bel Air houses available to you or to inquire further about Upper Bel Air, Lower Bel Air, or Beverly Park real estate, please do not hesitate to contact me at your convenience. Whether buying, selling or investing, with more than 21 years of real estate experience and expertise, I look forward sharing my knowledge and resources with you. Contact me today to get started!


The Followng Cities make up the “Westside” of Los Angeles, CA

  • Bel Air
  • Benedict Canyon
  • Beverly Crest
  • Beverly Glen
  • Beverly Hills Post Office
  • Beverlywood
  • Brentwood
  • Brentwood Circle
  • Brentwood Glen
  • Carthay Square
  • Century City
  • Cheviot Hills
  • Del Rey
  • East Gate Bel Air
  • Faircrest Heights
  • Holmby Hills
  • Kenter Canyon
  • Little Ethiopia
  • Mandeville Canyon
  • Marina Peninsula
  • Mar Vista
  • Palisades Highlands
  • Pacific Palisades
  • Palms
  • Picfair Village
  • Playa del Rey
  • Playa Vista
  • Rancho Park
  • Reynier Village
  • Rustic Canyon
  • Sawtelle
  • South Carthay
  • South Robertson
  • Venice
  • West Los Angeles
  • Westchester
  • Westdale
  • Westside Village
  • Westwood
  • Wilshire Vista

Platinum Triangle

The Platinum Triangle is an informal name for three adjacent affluent neighborhoods in the Westside area of Los Angeles County, in Southern California.

It includes two Los Angeles city neighborhoods, Bel Air and Holmby Hills; and the City of Beverly Hills. The “Platinum Triangle” designation refers to the exceptional property values, size of estate properties and their residences, and the residents’ wealth.

Finding the Perfect Neighborhood

Before buying that perfect home, make sure that the neighborhood it’s located in is just as ideal. Ensure that the neighborhood is a good fit for you and your family by doing some simple research.

The internet is an excellent tool for quickly accessing information on a community’s schools, businesses, and safety. A Google search is an easy way to get the locations of the schools and businesses in your potential neighborhood. Websites like Yelp offer reviews of local businesses and descriptions of neighborhoods in general. Crime statistics can be verified at by entering a zip code or address.

Another thing to consider before moving into a particular neighborhood is the availability of cell phone service. Contact your service provider and verify that you will have cell phone coverage in your intended neighborhood.

To really get the feel of a place, you will need to take a field trip to your potential home town and stroll through the neighborhood. Walk the streets in the morning and evening to make sure that the residents in the area are people you feel comfortable around.

Lastly, take a test drive of your potential commute to work. Drive to your place of employment at the same time you normally would. If the commute time is an hour or more, you may want to reconsider the neighborhood and look for something closer.


Using Curb Appeal to Help Sell Your Home

Maintaining your yard is one of the most important things you can do when selling your home. Potential buyers form their first impression of a house from its curb appeal.   A house with an attractive landscape can sell for up to 4 to 5 percent more, while a home with an unkempt yard can sell for 8 to 10 percent less, than the market rate. By keeping your lawn mowed and making a few simple improvements, you will attract potential buyers and bring in better offers for your home.

Start cleaning up your yard a month before you start showing your house. If you have a lawn, keep it mowed and weeded. Patch brown spots in the grass by raking and over-seeding the bald patches. Keep leaves and other debris cleaned up. A well-maintained lawn will sell a home faster than a weedy, brown one.

Plant flowers to add some color to the landscape of your home and spruce up your outdoor containers. Be sure to prune overgrown trees and shrubs and replace any plants that look unhealthy.   Clean all water features and fix any that are not functioning properly.

Lastly, potential home-buyers will notice things like dirty or broken concrete. Pressure-wash your driveways, patios and sidewalks if necessary and patch up or replace broken cement. This is a sign to buyers that everything is being maintained properly.

Holmby Hills Estates

Holmby Hills Estates

If you’re looking for the premier Beverly Hills, CA real estate, your search should include Holmby Hills estates. Recognized time and time again as the United States’ wealthiest neighborhood, Holmby Hills never disappoints. Sprawling estates dot the hillsides and the landscape is steeped in Hollywood history. No other place in the world can claim Sunset Boulevard as it’s primary thoroughfare – even the most glamorous residential destinations pale in comparison. Imagine taking in glorious sunsets over the Pacific from a grand property in the midst of one of the world’s most exclusive enclaves. You’ll be in good company, too – Beverly Hills, CA real estate is favored by stars from every walk of life, although few are fortunate enough to call Holmby Hills estates home.

It’s not hard to see what lured show businesses immortals like Walt Disney, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Humphrey Bogart, Lucille Ball, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, and Marilyn Monroe to Holmby Hills estates. There’s a certain prestige associated with the neighborhood, along with the requisite stunning views and luxuriously appointed homes. Other areas in Los Angeles have relinquished their ties with the history of the area, but class and culture are everywhere in Holmby Hills. As a local real estate expert, I will do more than find a distinctive property for you and your family – I will match you with a Beverly Hills palace that compliments your personality and accomplishments. It’s as simple as calling me, Florence Mattar – I’ll take care of the rest.

Setting a Realistic Listing Price For Your Home

Once you have decided to put your house on the market, the most important thing to consider is pricing the house correctly. A house that is properly priced will sell faster – and for more money – during the first weeks of listing, than a property with an unreasonably high price tag.

Some sellers believe, when setting the listing price high, that they can always come down at a later date. However, buyers will avoid these properties in favor of looking at similar listings within their price range. The seller will lose out on showings, as well as offers, and the house will still be on the market long after its appeal has waned.

By setting a more competitive listing price, a property will get more attention from potential buyers right after its put on the market. These houses often receive multiple offers, as a result of the increased exposure, driving up the sales price.

When deciding on a listing price, have your real estate agent run a competitive market analysis of your home. This analysis will provide you with data on what similar properties in your neighborhood sold for. This information, along with other factors such as upgrades to your home will allow you to estimate the fair market value of your house and a reasonable listing price.

Open House Etiquette for Buyers

Though internet marketing provides most buyers with their first view of a property, nothing compares to seeing a house in person. Touring a home during an open house is the only way to get a sense of the home’s condition and how you feel being in the property.   To get the most from your experience as a prospective home buyer, exercise proper open house etiquette. You will be able to thoroughly scrutinize the property while respecting the seller’s basic need for privacy.

Upon arrival at an open house, feel free to step in without ringing the bell. If there is a sign-in sheet, be sure to list your name. Try to greet the agent, but if they are busy helping someone else, pick up a flyer and take a self-guided tour. Open doors throughout the home as you walk through it. Storage space is a huge consideration when buying a home, so find out all the features the property has. However, do not open dresser drawers, or snoop through any free-standing furniture such as desks and armoires. Those furnishings are not items that will remain with the house, and most importantly, the homeowner’s privacy must be respected.

After your tour of the home, do give feedback to the agent if asked. Any constructive information you offer can be passed on the homeowner to improve the property for sale.