On the Friday before Christmas I was fortunate enough to “tour” the most famous House in America–the White House. Visiting the rooms where hundreds of world leaders have sat and where the fate of millions has been determined was nothing less than awe-inspiring. Surprisingly, “America’s Most Famous House” has lessons from which we can all benefit.

Given the current terror situation, I wasn’t surprised by the security measures we experienced prior to being “qualified” to be on the “tour.” This included supplying our names, dates of birth, and Social Security Numbers, which were checked through the “appropriate channels” before we were “approved.”

On the day of the tour, we passed through three security checkpoints. Once we were admitted, we were seated in the room where diplomats wait to be shown into the White House. In spite of all the security, we were made to feel welcome while we waited to be admitted to the tour.

Because there were few visitors the morning we were there, we had the unusual opportunity to walk through at our own rate. In the State Dining Room where they conduct formal diplomatic dinners, we struck up a conversation with a member of the Secret Service who spent 20 minutes answering our questions about the room, the events conducted in that room, as well as sharing information about the beautiful Christmas decorations. He also told us that if we asked the other people in the “blue sports coats,” they would be happy to share information about the rooms where they were stationed. We learned about the “Presto-Change-O tables” on each side of the fireplace where the president confers with world leaders, as well as interesting historical tidbits about the presidents and the first ladies whose portraits graced the walls. We also learned about how state dinners are conducted, what the protocol is, as well as how the White House functions on a day-to-day basis.

After the tour, it struck me there were five lessons I learned from our “White House open house.”

1. Before we ever consider doing business with anyone, we need to thoroughly check out their “qualifications.” Are they who they claim to be and are they qualified to do business with us? Can they be “approved” for a loan?

2. Even the most wary and reticent person will open up if approached correctly. My perception of the Secret Service dramatically changed based upon our visit. Rather than being standoffish, they were happy to share what they knew about the White House history, as well as the history of our presidents. I believe part of this response resulted from the fact that we were eager to hear their comments, we asked open-ended questions (“What can you tell us about what we’re seeing in this room?”) and were genuinely interested in what they had to say. I have found the same to be true of sellers and buyers. If you take the time to listen, to be genuinely interested in their home, as well as what they want to share (not what you “want to discover”), you will form a strong connection based upon mutual trust. It’s this connection that leads to great client relationships as well as future referrals.

3. Clearly, the White House looks the best at the holidays. It’s sad that many sellers decide to take their homes off the market at the very time when their homes look their best.

4. The president works in the same place where he lives. If I were going back into selling today, I would probably elect to office at home rather than fighting for my own little cubicle or paying a desk fee. Working at home means I don’t have to worry about my faxes getting lost, about someone overhearing a sensitive conversation, or being bumped out of my luxurious office because my production wasn’t up to par last year. The challenge with working at home, however, is drawing a boundary between your home and business life. The president conducts business in the Oval Office, in the Public Rooms of the White House, and in certain designated meeting rooms. The living quarters are completely separate from these other areas. To successfully work where we live, we must be able to “close the door” on our private lives, much as the president goes “upstairs” to his private life.

5. While the president obviously has the most important job in the world, he still manages to take time off. How sad it is that so many people in our business feel they cannot take time away from their business to be with family and to take care of what really matters.

If you would like to take a White House Tour from the comfort of your computer, click on the link below:

www.whitehouse.gov/history/whtour

Or to learn more about the history of “America’s most famous house” click on:

www.whitehousehistory.org

Bernice Ross is an owner of Realestatecoach.com and can be reached at bernice@realestatecoach.com.

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