The idyllic mental image of a lovely home, picket fence, colorful curb appeal, and a sparkling in-ground swimming pool stimulates visions of pride, symbolizes accomplishments, and is a great way to earn the good natured envy of friends and relatives. EVERYONE dreams of owning a home with a swimming pool … Right? (Remember Clark Griswold on Christmas Vacation?) Well, no. One of the most interestingly unpredictable conversations about properties you can begin with a group of people centers on the value of swimming pools. Opinions differ wildly! Even when you try to research the numbers, they are tainted with subjectivity and don’t offer strict clarity about how a pool affects a home’s value and “sell-ability”. Here are a few of my observations.
- Geography. Knoxville, Tennessee is southern enough in the United States, that the weather supports a five to six month swimming season depending on the particular year and even longer if the pool is heated. My observations may be quite different if I lived and worked in the North East, or in the deep South, and even more so if I lived out West where drought and water rationing would make things vastly different.
- It seems, to have any chance at adding monetary value, a pool has to be in-ground rather than above ground. No matter how nice the decking around an above ground pool, or how much guilty pleasure anyone floating around on a >90* day would garner; people generally make negative judgments about above ground pools. Some buyers will even stipulate they are dismantled and hauled away as a condition of sale. Some HOAs and or neighborhoods even have specific stipulations against above ground pools.
- In-ground pools can cost anywhere from $10,000 - $100,000 to install, so many people who DO want a pool, look for homes already featuring pools because someone else has taken the “hit” for this initial construction cost. Pools are certainly NOT an investment, as in something that sellers will get back more than the cost of installation and upkeep. Some sites have listed that quality pools can add to the home’s appraisal by improving the aesthetic of the outdoor spaces, but this too seems subjective and certainly not a dollar for dollar return.
- A pool may narrow the number of perspective buyers. Some people are indifferent to a pool. They wouldn’t put one at the top of a priority list, but nor would they walk away from a home that has one and could even consider it an unexpected bonus (which they wouldn’t pay more to get but are happy to have). There are a different group of people though, who will immediately exclude a property because of a pool. Why? Well, things like: the costs of additional insurance - some people view pools as a very costly potential liability; safety concerns - if it’s a family with small children who would fear one finding the way to the pool unnoticed and tragedy would follow; or upkeep demands - the very pragmatic person who wouldn’t want the additional time and energy (or cost) of actually maintaining the pool. Many of the people who fit those descriptions would be far more attracted to a neighborhood pool rather than one on their own property. This way, they can have the access and availability of a pool without all of the personal liability of single ownership.
- The price range of the property does seem to have some affect on how attractive a pool on the property becomes to perspective buyers. As property values increase, it seems (this is merely observation, unsubstantiated by any scientifically measured statistical analysis) that swimming pools become not only less of an issue, but conversely become an expectation as the listing price increases. It’s as if a pool is another accessory which is simply expected at a certain price point, like tile versus linoleum… Though the scale on that price point differs, one could probably find a correlative relationship between homes priced over $500,000 and likelihood they include a pool or the desirability that they WOULD include a pool.
Overall, when someone considers adding a pool to their home and asks my opinion as a real estate professional, I try to present them with all of the information and sides of the issue. I ask them to consider whether it is worth it to them, and the INTRINSIC value of enjoyment they will get from the pool without any expectation of a monetary return on their cost is enough for them to move forward. If they can answer yes, and know that their family will use and create a lifestyle around the pool, then they should do it. It probably won’t detract from the value of the home though it could take a little more time to sell as they may have narrowed their market of potential buyers. If someone simply wants to do it for an aesthetic or because they think they will raise the value of their home on appraisal? I would really, really have that person do considerable research and think it through before spending any money.