Just like the paint colors that greet potential buyers for your home at curbside as well as bedside, your swimming pool may or may not be their cup of tea. But unlike paint colors, which are fairly simple cosmetic fixes, a swimming pool can’t easily be brushed out of a home’s landscape.In the strategy to attract buyers to your home, your swimming pool can be a help or hindrance to the sale. It will look like a refreshing oasis to some potential homebuyers and an upkeep nightmare to others. So what may seem to you as a value-added feature may not be reflected on your home's appraisal.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
A pool may increase the value of a home, depending on the type of pool, market comparables, property location and an appraiser’s expert opinion. But it may also decrease value, or at least not contribute to value, based on the same considerations.
Negative Value Contributors of Pools
Some potential homebuyers will never buy a house with a pool for several reasons. There’s a large group of people who just aren’t fans of swimming and would never use a swimming pool. To them, the pool takes up a chunk of the back yard where they’d rather see pretty landscaping. Others see swimming pools as hazards, particularly for children, and they don’t want to invite catastrophe.
Positive Value Contributors of Pools
“Location, location, location” isn’t a mantra that only influences real estate values. It also applies to swimming pools – not spatial location in the yard, but geographical location in the country.
Other favorable markets include high-end neighborhoods where “keeping up with the Joneses” includes having a swimming pool. Residents in these types of neighborhoods will not likely balk at the costs of upkeep and/or paying someone to maintain the pools for them. As a benchmark, Dave Ramsey notes that a well-maintained in-ground pool in a favorable location that complements your property could increase your home's value by up to 7 percent.
Types of Swimming Pools
As a rule of thumb, an above-ground pool will not increase the value of a home. And in a best-case scenario, an in-ground pool may increase the value of a home.
Although many in-ground pools are made of concrete, gunite (a mixture of concrete and sand) has surpassed concrete as the most popular construction material. Some in-ground pools use fiberglass shells or liners as a less-expensive alternative, but liners generally have to be replaced approximately every 10 years. Homebuyers typically require a contingency clause in their purchase contracts to cover the replacement of a pool liner, even if the liner is less than 10 years old.
Appraisal Values Vs. Pool Costs
If you’re considering the addition of a swimming pool to your property, and you think you’ll be selling your home at some point, you may want to hire someone to determine the value of a pool in an appraisal format. Ask the appraiser to figure two values – the property value without the addition of a pool and the property value with the addition of a pool.
Your home (without a pool), for example, may appraise for $300,000, and the addition of a pool may raise the appraised value to $335,000. But if you’ll be paying $65,000 (or more) to install the pool and $1,000 to maintain it each year, the costs of the pool are greater than the dollar value you’d receive for it if you sell your home.
Many experts agree that the greater benefit of a swimming pool is not in the value it adds to your home if you sell it but in the value you and your family receive from it.
Victoria Lee Blackstone was formerly with Freddie Mac’s mortgage acquisition department, where she funded multi-million-dollar loan pools for primary lending institutions, worked on a mortgage fraud task force and wrote the convertible ARM section of the company’s policies and procedures manual. Currently, Blackstone is a professional writer with expertise in the fields of mortgage, finance, budgeting and tax. She is the author of more than 2,000 published works for newspapers, magazines, online publications and individual clients.