Buying Homes With Swimming Pools

Should You Buy a Home With a Swimming Pool?

Backyard swimming pool surrounded by a white picket fence
••• Fotosearch/Getty Images

You buy your dream home with an enticing, indoor swimming pool, then you turn off the dehumidifier one cold day without realizing that the walls will perspire. The dampness causes subterranean termites to crawl out of hiding and zip around the room. As a result, you pay a small fortune for pest extermination, painting, and floor covering replacement.

A lesson many pool owners learn the hard way is that proper pool maintenance is of primary importance. Of course, most pools are located outdoors, which makes taking care of them a bit easier, but you should also find out if your pool complies with federal and local pool barrier laws regarding enhanced safety regulations.

Who Buys Homes With Swimming Pools?

Most homebuyers fall into one of three categories when it comes to buying a home with a pool:

  1. They won't look at a home without a pool. A pool is paramount because a home is not a home without one. Pools are especially popular in warm states where they're used year-round.
  2. They won't look at a home with a pool. Buyers with small children are often concerned about accidental deaths by drowning, with good reason. Others simply don't want the upkeep or expense of a pool.
  3. They've never thought about a pool. These buyers might face a quick decision they hadn't anticipated if a home offers everything else they're looking for but it also has a pool. Some might buy the house and fill the pool with rocks.

Homebuyers with teenage children, those with a good bit of money to spend, and exercise enthusiasts are commonly the most interested in homes with swimming pools.

Types of Swimming Pools

Hire a reputable pool contractor if you're planning to install a swimming pool. Many states have licensing requirements. For example, contractors in California who do more than $500 of work on a pool must be licensed and are required to have a swimming pool specialty classification for the license.

The cost of installing in-ground pool can be $20,000 to $65,000, but can easily soar past six figures, depending on desired amenities such as fountains, landscaping, or decking.

  • Gunite pool construction is achieved by spraying a mixture of concrete and sand into a pool-sized hole, and it's the most popular. These in-ground pools are permanent structures, unlike above-ground pools, which are temporary. Gunite pools can be laid out in almost any shape the homeowner desires and they last for years, but gunite is expensive.
  • Vinyl in-ground pools are generally rectangular, but other configurations are available. They're less expensive than gunite because the pools are lined with vinyl, but the liners often need replacement after 10 years or so. They are popular in areas where temperatures dip below freezing and the pools are drained in the winter. To prepare for a vinyl pool, the ground is excavated to prepare for a vinyl pool, and support walls are constructed from a variety of materials such as wood, steel, fiberglass, or aluminum.
  • According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), above-ground pools add no value to the home because they're portable. Above-ground is an inexpensive option for a pool. Some homeowners buy do-it-yourself kits and assemble their own above-ground pools. These pools can be installed in a few days, unlike in-ground pools, which can require weeks to complete.

Realtors often ask homeowners to remove above-ground pools when selling a home with one.

Other pool options include lap pools that can fit in just about any backyard. As with any home project, the size of the pool will factor heavily into cost, as will the materials used. Custom-shaped pools are usually the costliest of all.

Pros and Cons of Buying a Home With a Pool

The benefits of owning a home with a built-in swimming pool include:

  • Pools can increase the aesthetic value of a property
  • People who host a lot of parties use their pools for entertainment
  • Pools provide an easy way to instantly cool down on hot days without having to travel to a public pool, which often requires a fee or paid membership
  • Some people use swimming pools exclusively for aquatic exercises and thus view pools as having health benefits
  • Swimming pools can add value at resale, especially in hot climates

The drawbacks to owning a home with a built-in swimming pool include:

  • Regular maintenance requiring chemicals, cleaning, and repair
  • At least 163 youngsters drowned in pools and spas during the summer of 2017, according to the U.S. Consumer Report Safety Division
  • Homes with pools may appeal to fewer buyers
  • Pools consume valuable yard space, and they can overwhelm a property with a small yard
  • It can cost more to insure a home with a pool, heating it can drive up utility bills, and even run-of-the-mill maintenance can run $1,800 a year or more

Do Pools Add or Detract From the Value of a Home?

Whether a pool adds value to a home depends on where you live. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the three most popular states for pool homes are California, Arizona, and Florida. In colder climates such as Minnesota, however, a pool may add no value.

Should You Buy a Home With a Pool?

Studies show that most low-end and many middle-range buyers don't want a home with a pool. Higher-end homes are more likely to them, but some are never used. Some pools exist for decoration. A pool might be right for you if you enjoy swimming, but wisdom says you should only buy a home with a pool if you're going to use it.

As of 2017, some 10.4 million homes in the United States had in-ground pools, according to the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP).

The Bottom Line

Consider whether an in-ground pool makes sense for you in terms of responsibility, lifestyle, value, and cost. Address concerns such as safety regarding kids or pets, high water bills, and possible water contamination if the water isn't treated correctly. Learn how to take care of your pool so it doesn't lead to costly mistakes or detract from the value of your property.