OK – So you took our real estate classes in Los Angeles or maybe you took our real estate classes online. Now you have your license and it’s time to do your first open house! You’re hoping to make some great connections with potential clients and you want visitors to roam through the home a little longer. What do you do? Bribe them with ice cream? Booze? Both?
If you decide to serve alcohol at your open house and you don’t have a liquor license (no agent is going to have one) it’s important to ensure that the open house is not open to the public. If you are serving alcohol and your open house is open to the public you need to have a liquor license to do it.
Want to serve liquor at an open house? There are other rules too:
There can’t be any sale of alcohol
It’s important to make sure that there’s no actual sale of alcohol happening at the open house. Agents typically don’t charge for liquor at an open house so this isn’t something that most real estate agents have to worry about.
The premises cannot be maintained for the purpose of keeping, serving, consuming, or disposing alcoholic beverages.
If you’re doing an open house at a residential property, it’s pretty unlikely that the premises are going to be maintained for the purpose of serving liquor. It’s a residential property, it’s not zoned commercial, it’s not zoned retail restaurant or bar. So this second rule isn’t going to be a problem for most real estate agents.
The event should not be open to the “general public” at the time alcoholic beverages are served.
In the hospitality world, this is known as a “private party exception”. For the private party exception to be invoked, the person doing the open house has to have a list of guests prior to the event. Only people on the list are permitted to be admitted to the event and it would become a “private party”.
This means that if somebody does show up at your open house and they’re not on the list, you have to turn them away. If you’re serving alcohol and you let them in the event could be interpreted as being “open to the public” which could trigger a licensing requirement. The list of attendees is important to maintain and should be respected.
Finally, it’s hard to overstate the amount of liability that the agent can incur in the event the agent allows alcohol to be served to someone that is underage. Agents can also be liable in the event that they continue to serve alcohol to someone who is obviously intoxicated or is “habitual drunkard”.
So be smart about it. Make sure that if you are serving wine you need to have proper protocol that’s being followed to make sure we limit our liability at these open house events.
As always, if you are interested in taking real estate classes in Los Angeles or in Orange County please visit www.adhischools.com. Feel free to call the office at 888 768 5285.