LOS ANGELES (AP) _ After nearly eight years of living upstairs in the White House, President Reagan says he's awed by the 6,500-square-foot home he and his wife, Nancy, will live in after his term ends Jan. 20.

Reagan got his second look at the house Friday when he and the first lady arrived here to begin a two-week California vacation.

''I am awed and I love it,'' assistant White House Press Secretary Mark Weinberg quoted the president as saying after the first lady took him on a tour of the secluded home in the ritzy Bel Air section of town.

Mrs. Reagan had confided to reporters earlier that she sneaked the president out of his hotel without reporters being told during one of their earlier visits to Los Angeles so Reagan could get a peek at the house.

She had him crouch down in a White House car so he couldn't be seen, she said.

The house stands on 1 1/4 acres of ground, with a swimming pool. A group of 20 California friends of the Reagans bought it in 1986 with them in mind. The Reagans are leasing the house from the group, called Wall Management.

Before Reagan became president, he and his family lived in Pacific Palisades, in the western part of Los Angeles, in a house that has since been sold.

They have a Spanish style adobe house of five rooms and 1,500 square feet at their ranch in the Santa Ynez mountains about 30 miles north of Santa Barbara. Reagan has said they plan to make occasional visits to the ranch during his retirement, just as they did while in the White House.

The president and first lady were expected to go out to dinner Saturday night with Charles Z. Wick, the director of the U.S. Information Agency, and his wife. This is a Christmas eve custom with them, but in recent years the dinner has been in Washington.

The Reagans will have Christmas dinner at their new home Sunday with all of their children and grandchildren except for their estranged daughter, Patti Davis.

They will return to Washington on Jan. 5 after seeing the new year in at the home of publisher Walter Annenberg in Rancho Mirage, Calif., near Palm Springs.