"No water in the swimming pool? No loan!" says FHA

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Dreamcatcher Realty / Greater Phoenix Area


I'm in the final stage of a transaction in which I'm the Buyer's Agent and the seller is Freddie Mac (bank owned single family detached house).  All inspections have been completed, appraised value is in, and by all appearances, we were good to go ~ until we received a letter from the buyer's lender.  Here are the key parts of the letter:


"The purpose of this letter is to address the empty pool at [referenced] property.  The buyers have applied and been approved for an FHA loan in order to purchase the property.  The credit approval part of this process has been finalized and is complete.

To obtain full and final approval and successfully close this transaction we need to obtain property approval.  Upon reviewing the appraisal it came to our attention that the pool is currently empty.  According to FHA guidelines, the pool must contain enough water to allow the pool's pump to successfully circulate the water.  The pool's current state will not allow us to move forward on this transaction at this point.

In order to approve the property, the pool must be filled with water to meet the above mentioned criteria for a period of time long enough for the appraiser to re-inspect the pool.  This is for 2 reasons. The first is to ensure that the pools systems are functioning. The second is that to ensure that the pool can hold water to avoid any safety issues."


Empty Pool


At this late stage in escrow, the questions raised by this letter are numerous and potentially devastating:

  1. Who is going to pay for the water to fill the pool?
  2. Is the FHA appraiser qualified to determine if the pool equipment is functioning properly?
  3. Who is going to pay for repairs to the pool equipment if it is not functioning properly?
  4. What are the implications for the seller if they refuse to cooperate and effect the pool filling and/or repairs?

Personally, I'm in favor of dropping a water hose in the pool, filling it up and calling the appraiser back to re-inspect as quickly as possible.  But the "what if" questions come into play, so who knows what's gonna happen!  Any thoughts?


Randy Hooker -  Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Queen Creek, Arizona Real Estate


Gilbert Homes ~ Chandler Homes ~ Mesa Homes ~ Queen Creek Homes ~ Phoenix Homes


photo by Jono Rotten

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Sidney Kutchuk - Realty Works Temecula Kutchuk - Realty Works Temecula
Realty Works Temecula - Temecula, CA
Realty Works Temecula

OMG Randy, I did not mean for you to purchase new equipment for your buyers as a closing gift.  Just get a licensed technician to do an evaluation.   Perhaps I misunderstood, is there not any equipment?  And hey, I feel your pain about the 11th hour stuff, but I hope it all works out!

Apr 03, 2009 05:45 PM #23
Randy Hooker
Dreamcatcher Realty / Greater Phoenix Area - Gilbert, AZ
Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, Queen Creek

Hey Jane ~ You missed the LOL at the end of my comment back to you.  I was just kidding you.  There IS some pool equipment, but it's in questionable condition.  I'm sure we'll get through it, but the 11th hour thing irritates the hell out of me.  And seriously, Jane, I was just playing with you.  Next time you see me, you can slap the crap out of me.  OK?   :))

Apr 03, 2009 05:59 PM #24
Sidney Kutchuk - Realty Works Temecula Kutchuk - Realty Works Temecula
Realty Works Temecula - Temecula, CA
Realty Works Temecula

Don't tempt me now!

Apr 03, 2009 06:22 PM #25
David Daniels
Owner of FlyersToYou, Inc. and former Top Realtor - Hemet, CA


I smell a conventional loan in the makings!


Apr 03, 2009 06:43 PM #26
JL Boney, III
Coldwell Banker - Columbia, SC
Columbia, SC Real Estate

"What if's" are always great in the middle of everything, aren't they?

Apr 04, 2009 03:23 AM #27
Randy Hooker
Dreamcatcher Realty / Greater Phoenix Area - Gilbert, AZ
Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, Queen Creek

Jane ~  :-)

Dave ~ my clients don't have 20% to put down, so not a chance on a conventional loan!

JL ~ Yep!  "If it weren't for "what if's", we would be bored out of our minds!   :)

Apr 04, 2009 04:58 AM #28
James Randall
Palm Bay, FL

The water has to turned on in the name of the Bank or whoever and in our area all water bills have to be satisfied at closing or the closing company retains enough money in escrow to cover the cost of the final bill. Unpaid water bills in our area can be liens against the property and therefore in order to provide clear title and title insurance that last water bill has to be paid.

I am surprised that the FHA house inspector did not make a point of this when he inspected the property. Any VA inspector worth his salt would have blown the whistle immediately. The issue of the equipment working will just have to negotiated.

Apr 04, 2009 02:52 PM #29
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

I dunno, Randy, but it looks to me like there's water in that pool!  It looks pretty disgusting, doesn't it?

Apr 05, 2009 01:55 AM #30
Patrick Schutte
Flex Realty - Prescott, AZ

Couldn't you fill it in with PhotoShop?

;) PS

Apr 05, 2009 03:27 AM #31
Randy Hooker
Dreamcatcher Realty / Greater Phoenix Area - Gilbert, AZ
Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, Queen Creek

Hey Pat ~ It's VERY disgusting!  And filling it with water before it's been cleaned up and re-plastered is a HUGE waste of time and money.  Gotta love some of the 'rules' our governmental agencies live by...

Patrick ~ LMAO!  You get the golden egg award for that one, my friend.  I just spewed coffee all over my keyboard, and I love it.  Thanks for the good laugh on a Sunday morning.

Apr 05, 2009 05:40 AM #32
Mark MacKenzie
Phoenix, AZ

As if foreclosures aren't bad enough; throw in an alligator pond and things can get very interesting for inspections.  These things can be a real problem in AZ during the summer.

Apr 05, 2009 03:42 PM #33
Christine McInerney
Great Life RE - Knoxville, TN
The McInerney Team, Knoxville TN Homes For Sale

Wow, I did not know about this law.  Luckily/unluckily, I guess from what perspective you are looking at my market area does not have many pools, the rolling hills of East TN don't allow for pools to be the norm.  However, this is something to definitely keep in the back of my head in case it does come up.  Good luck...and I would use a hose.

Apr 06, 2009 01:56 AM #34
Jim Frimmer
HomeSmart Realty West - San Diego, CA
Realtor & CDPE, Mission Valley specialist

Oh how I wish I had one of the pool pictures that we lost in the Great Hard Drive Crash of August 2005.

I learned a great deal about swimming pools when I worked as a home inspector from October 2001 to May 2005. You should call Russel Ray and talk to him about pools. He used to build them in Texas and Louisiana, repair them when necessary, etc.

I'll try to relay what I know, but I'm not totally sure if I remember right, so call Russel to confirm.

Don't summarily turn on the garden hose and fill it up. When pools are built and plastered, they are immediately filled with water because the plaster is meant to cure under water and with the weight of the water helping the pool settle. When the water is removed, especially in extremely hot or cold climates, or on an extremely hot or cold day, the pool can actually pop out of the ground, or perhaps just crack in all the wrong places. You might not see the cracks until you fill the pool up with water, and then you could have a big mess on your hands. Let a pool professional fill it up because he'll have the expertise to stop filling it if problems begin to develop. He knows what to look for.

Apr 07, 2009 01:46 PM #35
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

I did a VA last year that had no water in the pool and it was obvious that the pool needed repairs.  We only had to cover it for safety to close.

Apr 08, 2009 05:12 AM #36
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Randy:  This is insanity, but par for the course with these FHA loans and bank owned homes.  It's always something.  These two combined are like a cruel joke.  What do you get when you have an uptight government loan program and a cheapskate seller that has a property in questionable condition?  No deal!  Sorry...I couldn't resist.  I hope this works out.

Apr 12, 2009 11:27 AM #37
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

Good thing I decided to read through the 38 comments before I made a comment. See comment #36 above since I ditto that.

Apr 16, 2009 02:54 AM #38

Conventional loans have the same problems.

Mar 23, 2011 01:01 PM #39
Mike Young
203kOnLine.com, covering the USA - Las Vegas, NV
FHA 203k Consultant 916-758-1809

I realize this is an old post but FHA came out with their new guideline regarding pools and this actually can be included in an FHA 203k transaction now. Before Sept 14th, 2015 you could only repair a pool up to $1500, that is no longer the case, now you can finish the pool or repair it without that restriction. You always could with the FannieMae HomeStyle loan program.

Sep 28, 2016 02:52 AM #41
Michael Mahoney
Century 21 American Properties - Walpole, MA
Boston Realtor

Randy you are spot on with this one. An agent in my office reacently asked about a property being sold with an empty pool....I used your article as the basis for my response....http://activerain.com/blogsview/1016196/-no-water-in-the-swimming-pool--no-loan---says-fha


Michael Mahoney

Keller Williams Boston Realtor


May 30, 2017 09:35 AM #42
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

I agree, no water would probably mean no loan. The houses with damaged pool ( and other issues)  are usually sold for cash. 

Mar 14, 2018 06:46 PM #43
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Randy Hooker

Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, Queen Creek
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