Both men had taken care to speak respectfully about each other ahead of the talks - arranged, analysts say, with unusual haste because the US is at war and because the transition is taking place in the midst of an economic crisis.
Afterwards a statement from the president-elect said the discussions had been wide-ranging. His spokesman said they discussed the housing and auto industries among wider economic issues.
Mr Bush and Mr Obama "had a broad discussion about the importance of working together throughout the transition of government in light of the nation's many critical economic and security challenges", the statement said.
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino, meanwhile, said Mr Bush had called the talks relaxed and constructive, but declined to comment on specifics.
Stem cell move
Reports from Washington suggest Mr Obama's transition team has been working hard to identify issues where early changes could be made.
BUSH DECISIONS UNDER FIRE
Limited federal funding for medical research using human embryo stem cells
Aid groups receiving US aid barred from counselling women about abortion availability
California barred from imposing minimum standards of vehicle fuel efficiency
Utah land being opened up for oil and gas drilling
Mr Obama's advisers are said to be putting together a plan to release a group of detainees from the Guanatanamo Bay detention centre and to transfer most of the rest to the American prison and courts system.
A third group who cannot be tried in public because of national security concerns could, reports the BBC's Justin Webb, be brought before a new court designed specifically for the purpose of dealing with them.
The Washington Post newspaper, meanwhile, reported that transition officials had compiled a list of some 200 executive orders to be considered.
Laura Bush showed Michelle Obama around her new home
Mr Obama's transition chief John Podesta has said executive orders on stem cell research or oil drilling in Utah can easily be repealed, as no congressional action is needed.
The Washington Post said other orders affecting environmental legislation and abortion issues were also under consideration.
"There's a lot that the president can do using his executive authority without waiting for congressional action, and I think we'll see the president do that," Mr Podesta said.
Potential plans for a last-minute rush of executive decisions by the White House were also being watched carefully, he added.
While Mr Obama returned to Chicago after the White House visit, Mrs Obama headed for visits to several private schools in Washington - including Sidwell, the Quaker school once attended by Chelsea Clinton.
Their two children, 10-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha, currently attend a private school in Chicago.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.