Buying Homes With Swimming Pools

Should You Buy a Home With a Swimming Pool?

Swimming pool
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You buy your dream home, which includes an enticing indoor swimming pool. One cold day, you turn off the dehumidifier without realizing that the walls will perspire. The dampness then 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?

When it comes to buying a home with a pool, most home buyers fall into one of three camps:

  1. Home Buyers Who Won't Look at Homes Without a Pool: For these buyers, a pool is paramount because a home is not a home without a pool. Pools are very popular in warm states, where they are used year-round.
  2. Home Buyers Who Won't Look at Homes With a Pool: Buyers with small children are often concerned about accidental deaths by drowning. Some buyers don't want the upkeep or expense of a pool.
  3. Home Buyers Who Never Thought About a Pool: If the home has everything else a buyer desires but it also has a pool, these buyers may face a quick decision they hadn't anticipated. Some buy the house and fill the pool with rocks.

Should You Buy a Home With a Pool?

Studies show that most low-end and many middle-range buyers do not want a home with a pool. Higher-end homes are more likely to have pools, but some are never used. Some pools exist for decoration. If you enjoy swimming, then a pool might be right for you. But wisdom says buy a home with a pool only if you will use it.

According to the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP), the number of new in-ground pools in the United States is growing and, as of 2017, some 10.4 million homes in the United States have in-ground pools.

Types of Swimming Pools

If you're planning to install a swimming pool, hire a reputable pool contractor. In California, for example, contractors 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 for a new pool starts around $30,000, but can easily soar past six figures, depending on desired amenities such as fountains, landscaping, or decking.

  • Gunite Pools: Gunite pool construction, which is achieved by spraying a mixture of concrete and sand into a pool-sized hole, is the most popular. Unlike above-ground pools, which are temporary, these in-ground pools are permanent structures. Gunite pools can be laid out in almost any shape the homeowner desires and last for years. But gunite is expensive.
  • Vinyl Pools: Vinyl in-ground pools are generally rectangular, but other configurations are available. They are less expensive than gunite because the pools are lined with vinyl; however, the liners often need replacement after 10 years. 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 and support walls are constructed from a variety of materials such as wood, steel, fiberglass, or aluminum.
  • Above-Ground Pools: According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), above-ground pools add no value to the home because they are portable. Above-ground is an inexpensive option for a pool. Some homeowners buy do-it-yourself kits and assemble their own above-ground pools. Unlike in-ground pools, which can require weeks to complete, these pools can be installed in a few days. When a realtor is selling a home with an above-ground pool, they often ask the seller to remove it.

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 utilize 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 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. Pools require chemicals, cleaning, and repair.
  • Children can drown. Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death among children ages 1 to 4, says Safekids.
  • Homes with pools appeal to fewer buyers.
  • Pools consume valuable yard space, and in a small yard, they can overwhelm the property.
  • It might cost more to insure a home with a pool, and heating it can drive up utility bills.

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. According to the NAR, an in-ground pool adds about 7.7% more in value to a home's market value. However, in colder climates, such as Minnesota, a pool may add no value.

Bottom Line

When shopping for a home, consider whether an in-ground pool makes sense for you in terms of responsibility, lifestyle, value, and cost. You will need to be concerned with safety regarding kids or pets, high water bills, and possible water contamination if the water is not 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 home.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.