While these temporary deferrals of evaluations and appraisals apply to both residential and commercial real estate-related financial transactions, they do not

Who has the authority to sell the White House if it needs to be sold? How would you go about the process (realtors, etc.)?

It’s U.S. Government property, so it can be sold by the government. Let’s assume they chose to list it with me, an experienced real estate broker, rather than For Sale By Owner.

First, I would review the “comps” (sales of comparable homes) with the government in order to determine a target sales price. A dart board with various prices on it may be a helpful job aid for this step.

Next, I’d discuss pricing strategies in order to achieve that target sales price, or higher.

With that completed, we’d sign a listing agreement, specifying the list price, commission, etc.

Next, I’d want my marketing to highlight the historical significance of the property and that it truly is one-of-a-kind (unlike all the other properties which claim to be so). I’d ask about who has lived here, etc. I’d get a count of the bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, size of the yards, and any other special features which would interest potential buyers, such as secret doorways, Situation Room, elevators, multiple kitchens, pool, theatre, bowling alley, etc.

Of course, I’d take pictures to show off the house and grounds in my print and online marketing materials, photo-editing out items like the rocket launchers on the roof (since they likely wouldn’t stay with the property and might give the impression it’s not a safe neighborhood).

The new owner will want to know when they could take possession, so I’d ask when the president and his/her* family is expected to vacate. [From here on, “his/him” includes “her”].

  • If the president has a lease, the new owner would have to buy “subject-to” the rights of the president to stay for the duration of the lease.
  • If the president doesn’t have a lease, I might suggest that the seller notice to vacate so that I can show the property without the president, family, pets and staff being in the way.
  • If the president is given notice to vacate and doesn’t, I’d have him evicted.

Next, we’d complete the disclosures to be given to potential buyers, such as any repairs or modifications that have been made. We’d have to disclose it was burned by the British in 1814 and has been subject to attack.

I would walk the home with the seller, room by room, and note anything that might materially affect the value or desirability of the property.

I would request copies of building permits. I’d note any items of personal property that would not be included in the sale, either because the Government wants to keep them or they belong to the president/tenant.

I would also discuss with the government about having the house inspected. With a house this large, it would take extra time to inspect and have the reports ready for potential buyers, so we’d do this as soon as practical, with proper notice of entry to the president.

As early as possible, I’d have a “For Sale” sign posted. If it would be a while before it was officially on the market, I’d put a “Coming Soon” sign. The yard is rather large, so I’d put signs in strategic points around the yard to be visible from all vantage points — I wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on making an offer.

During this time, I’d have given the government tips on making the property “show ready,” such as decluttering, removing personal photos and possibly moving some of those huge, old paintings to the basement. I’d also start pre-marketing the home to my personal list of buyers and network with other top agents in order to “prime the pump” about The White House coming on the market.

For this particular listing, all showings would only be by appointment or during open house, so I would not install a lockbox. For showings, I’d request the Secret Service to cooperate by only requiring folks to sign the guest register — no cumbersome background checks, please.

Me and my staff would be ready to answer questions, provide disclosure packages, and arrange offer appointments.

Due to my excellent marketing, I would expect offers right away. I would review the offers with the government, including the buyers’ price and terms.

Being a loan officer, as well, if the buyer needed financing I would evaluate their loan terms, such as their underwriting status, down payment, qualifying criteria, proof of funds, etc.

I’d also caution the government not to rely on discriminatory criteria when choosing a buyer — they have to abide by all laws made by, well, themselves.

Next, I’d negotiate hard for any terms that my client, the government, wanted addressed, such as the price, as-is, possession, non-disclosure, etc.

After an offer is accepted, I would supervise the entire transaction, making sure that the buyer makes their earnest money (good faith) deposit and gets the appraisal ordered. I’d make sure the government makes any repairs to which they agreed. As we progress, I would ensure that the buyer removes their contingencies on time.

If any problems arose, I would work to solve them.

With all that wrapped up, we would proceed to closing. I’d confirm that the government received an Estimated Settlement Statement, showing the proceeds the U.S. Treasury will receive, less their closing costs, such as commission, notary, title insurance, inspections, repairs, etc.

After confirming that my client, the U.S. Government, received their money, I would congratulate them. I would not give anything more than a token closing gift because it’s illegal for government officials to give/receive gifts.

Finally, I would relax for a few minutes — but only a few — because next I would have to write my own check to the U.S. Treasury — for income tax. He who giveth, taketh away 🙂