Is that "Cement Pond" really a "Money Pit" ?

By
Real Estate Agent with 100 Plus Realty LLC

Should you buy a house with a pool? 

Maybe...maybe not.  Make sure that your decision to purchase a home with an existing pool is based on need and knowledge and not an emotional decision.

There is a common statement here in Palm Coast "The first home you buy in Palm Coast/Flagler County has a pool...the next home you buy does not" Why is this?

Pool homes can be a very exotic teaser to the first time buyer of a home in a warm climate...feeding into the lifestyle dream of floating around all day like you are on vacation, hosting lavish parties by the pool and inviting all of your new friends over to splash around with you etc....but after you purchase your new home and have paid the additional cost for a pool...not soon after you move in.... the reality takes hold. A pool can be very costly to maintain and unless you are a water fanatic that uses the pool on a daily or weekly basis....it just becomes a sparkling hole in the ground that eats money and time spent cleaning, chemicals, resurfacing and added insurance premiums.

Before you start imagining having wonderful weekends in that home you are about to purchase with the sparkling pool...also known as the "Cement Pond"-"Money Pit" by many pool owners....stop for a minute and ask yourself some very important questions.

 

1. Have you ever owned a pool before? Are you a swimmer? Do you currently make it a priority to swim at your local public pool or health club? Will you be spending time daily and or weekly in the pool.?

Keep in mind that most pools in Palm Coast are sized for dipping and splashing and not for swimming laps.  Many first time pool owners are shocked at the amount of time and expense required for the upkeep of their new backyard "cement pond"....something they were not prepared for when they were imagining floating in the pool with a fruity drink in hand.

2. Do you have the time and desire to dedicate to a pool? 

Maintenance on a pool can be very time consuming and costly. How much time do you plan on spending taking care of your pool?  Are you familiar with the chemicals required to maintain your pool?  You may need to spend several hours per week topping off the water level, testing the water and adding chemicals.  It will also be important to scrub the sides of the pool to keep any algae from forming. .

3. Is the pool you are buying worth it? 

The age and condition of a pool is important...VERY IMPORTANT.  It is advisable to always get a separate inspection for specifically the pool. Make sure that all of the electrical is up to code, that any additional or new safety requirements have been implemented.  The equipment on newer pools are less apt to leak and many pool contractors will put a new warranty on their work....not always an option on an older pool. 

4. Does it really make sense to buy a home with a pool that is over 10-15 years old?

According to the experts, pools once they hit 10-15 years of age could require huge outlays of cash due to resurfacing and plumbing problems. Resurfacing an older pool can add up to as much as $10K depending on the size of the pool and how much tiling is involved, while a plumbing problem could run thousands if the decking around the pool needs to be ripped up to solve the problem.

5. Have you budgeted for the additional expense? 

Here in Flagler County/Palm Coast, Florida, because we do have three seasons and it does occasionally get cold enough to freeze....you will probably only be using your pool 3-4 months out of the year unless it is heated.  The costs associated with heating your pool in addition to running the cleaners and pumps can add up to an additional $200-$300 per month depending on the age, size and heating system of the pool. If you choose to hire a service to take care of the pool for you...plan on a bill of $60 - $100 per month for that service

6. Have you taken your liability and safety into account? 

If you own a swimming pool or hot tub, you should seriously consider very high liability insurance . Many homeowner's insurance policies limit the maximum exposure of the insurer to $100,000. In Depending on the insurer you may be able to raise to $300,000, but getting covered beyond that, from your homeowner's plan, may prove rather difficult.

You may want to look into an umbrella plan and factor that additional cost before making your purchase. This is a separate liability policy in addition to your homeowner's coverage. The cost for this additional insurance protection will be different between insurers but should be roughly around an additional $500 per year.

Considering the millions of dollars of coverage it affords you, it is worth some very heavy consideration. We live in a very litigious society, and there may be legal consequences involved if anyone is harmed on your property. Safety issues are a concern when anyone (child or adult) is swimming in your pool.

 "Drowning is the leading cause of
unintentional injury related death in
children ages one to four."

If you have children, elderly or pets that will require supervision when in or around the pool area...please, please, please read the following safety information before choosing to purchase a pool home...it could save a life.

 FLORIDA POOL SAFETY INFO

7. Will I be happy with this pool in the future?

The house fits all of your needs, the location is ideal and the price is right...but you are unhappy with the size, condition, shape or placement of the pool. Or you never really wanted a pool to begin with...but all other aspects of the home meet your criteria.  What should you do....WALK AWAY.  The last thing you should ever do is to settle on what is considered a depreciating asset because you think you will learn to love it in the future or will have money in the future to change the design, configuration or upgrade the components of the pool. If you have to question why I say this...you are not prepared to own a home with a pool.  If your instincts for any reason give you doubt about purchasing a home with a pool...listen to that little voice and ask yourself...how will I feel about this decision a year from now.

 

The bottom line is that you should only purchase a home with an existing pool if you really want one and are prepared financially for the upkeep and repairs.

As a professional REALTOR and person experienced with buyer's and seller's who have made home purchases based on the fact that the home had a pool and then later regretted that decision...even when I have tried to explain the responsibilities of purchasing a pool home....I have had several customers over the years that have stated when they moved to Florida...they thought they "had to have a pool"...after all isn't that the dream of moving to Florida...having a home with a pool?  That lifestyle dream had in many cases cost them significant financial losses.

Whether you believe that you are prepared to own a pool home or have decided that a pool home does not fit your needs or budget...I would be happy to put my expertise to work for you in choosing your ideal home.

I ran some very interesting statistics today....they are very telling: This data is based on Single Family Residential Homes in Palm Coast, Florida.

  • 649 Palm Coast Homes sold since January 1, 2008
  • 125 Palm Coast Homes that sold since January 1, 2008 had a pool.
  • 19% of all sold homes to date in 2008 had a pool
  • 38% of all currently active homes for sale have a pool
  • Average price per square foot premium of pool homes sold since January 1, 2008 is $32.61 per square foot.

Based upon the above data, it seems clear that the majority of people who are buying homes in Palm Coast/Flagler County do not want a home with an existing pool....hmmmm.  And based upon the average square foot premium paid for a pool home of $32.61...for every 1000 square feet of home you could be paying as much as an additional $32,000 + for your home.  Now call me crazy...but for $32,000 I would want to make sure my pool had a warranty and the newest and best technology for chemicals and heating and not inherit the previous owner's problems or bad design choices. But that is just me :-)

I will however make a  very important suggestion - even if you have decided not to purchase a home with a pool...absolutely make sure that the home you do purchase has a lot that is large enough and will accommodate a pool in the future for any potential buyer's that do want a pool. Even if new buyer's of your home never do install a new pool...knowing that they have the choice will make your property more valuable than a property that is so restrictive that a pool will not fit.

With over 12 years of experience in buying, selling, managing & investing in real property personally in addition to being a very active, full time  REALTOR in Palm Coast/Flagler County, Florida for 7 years come this October....I have learned that information is power and I am an advocate for customer empowerment.

Please feel free to search the MLS for free at my website www.Palm-Coast-Hot-Properties.com.  You can sign up to be on the list of first to know when properties meeting your ideal criteria are newly listed, go pending or are sold. 

 

 

DICLAIMER:  The above statistical data was gathered from the Flagler county MLS and is not to be guaranteed reliable or accurate and is for informational purposes only.  The search homes information is provided through IDX and Kristi L. Ross PA, Hawk Beach Realty, My Broker or associates are not in anyway responsible for any mistaken information provided and no information provided on my blog should ever be mistaken for legal advice. I am not an attorney...I am a Florida Licensed REALTOR.

 

 

 

Comments (21)

Palm Coast Homes
100 Plus Realty LLC - Palm Coast, FL
Palm Coast/Flagler County Real Estate, The Ross/Co

David...thanks for stopping by.  I have always been amazed at the perception that when a person moves south to Florida that they need a pool and seafoam green walls...unless you love either...they get old very quick :-)

When you get ready to make the big move...make sure to look me up.  Our prices have gotten really cheap down here in the last 18 months and the bank owned properties are flying off the market pretty quickly right now...may be time for you to secure your future home now while interest rates are still in the 6's and more and more rentals are needed to absorb the number of people who are losing their homes to foreclosure...but still need a place to live.  Just may want to hold off on that pool until you move here or choose a neighborhood with a community pool :-)

Thanks again for stopping by...Kristi

Jul 26, 2008 01:26 PM
Larry Story ALC
Total Care Realty - Greensboro, NC
Beneath it all is the Land, Covering all of NC

Kristi, I believe you are right it is just some people do not understand how much maintence in involved in the upkeep of a pool.  Having had them in the past I can vouch for the headache at times. 

Jul 26, 2008 01:46 PM
Leslie Stewart
Oregon Licensed Broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Real Estate Professionals - Stayton, OR
Realtor, ABR, CRS, Oregon Licensed Broker

That is a great list for future pool owners.  Here in Oregon we don't have too many cement ponds, just mud puddles. 

Jul 26, 2008 01:53 PM
Paul LeMay
Caretaker Property Services - Tulsa, OK

Hello palm coast...spent three years in Deland, and with the beautiful beaches in flagler county who would want to swim in chlorine.   In many instances in the colder climates a pool can hurt the sale of a home and adds very little value if any.

Jul 26, 2008 02:09 PM
Palm Coast Homes
100 Plus Realty LLC - Palm Coast, FL
Palm Coast/Flagler County Real Estate, The Ross/Co

Larry...thanks for piping in with your experience.  I think pools are great for people that will use and enjoy them...but it is very important to be aware of the costs associated with them before making a home purchase.  Since so many of our buyers are from colder, northern states and moving to Florida is their first exposure to owning a pool...they come into the transaction not fully prepared for what they are getting into with a pool home...especially the older homes that have pools with leaks, cracks, bad plumbing, bad design details etc.

The neighbor of one of my rental homes mentioned today that he wished he would have never bought a home with a pool and instead would have bought a home and had his own pool designed...he actually said that he hates his pool...eeeks!!!

I have witnessed more than my fair share of home buyers that have chosen to purchase homes in bad locations, with less square footage and with poor floorplans...just becasue it had a pool...I still am amazed at the misplaced priorities of  some homebuyers.

Jul 26, 2008 02:11 PM
Palm Coast Homes
100 Plus Realty LLC - Palm Coast, FL
Palm Coast/Flagler County Real Estate, The Ross/Co

Leslie- You made me laugh.  I am not sure if you have read my bio but I spent a year living in Eugene, Oregon so I am quite aware of your mud puddles...LOL.  I do have a souvenir from my brief time spent in the rainy northwest...webbed toes...they don't call them the ducks for nothing :-)

Thanks for stopping by and making me laugh....Kristi

Jul 26, 2008 02:14 PM
Michelle Hall
Century 21 Hecht - Denver, NC

This is something I have often heard, a pool can turn buyers away, but I didn't know why. 

Jul 26, 2008 02:20 PM
Palm Coast Homes
100 Plus Realty LLC - Palm Coast, FL
Palm Coast/Flagler County Real Estate, The Ross/Co

Paul - you are 100 correct.  The other factor that buyer's fail to take into account is how often they will be traveling and are not aware that a pool can turn into a green pool of goo very quickly if not taken care of properly. Imagine going on vacation for a week just to return to find your pool is the newest breeding ground for the west nile virus..eeeks!!!

I would advise anyone buying a pool home have a professional take care of the pool or give them a training session on the proper chemicals and testing that needs to be performed.  I was at my Doctors office the other day and there was a younger girl in her late teens in the office...she had a sever allergic reaction to the chemicals that her parents were using in their pool...the mother made the comment that they are trying to find out how to switch over their older pool to a saltwater system instead of chlorine.

You have the right idea....go to the beach :-)  I love to take my dogs swimming in the Ocean.

Thanks for stopping by...Kristi

Jul 26, 2008 02:22 PM
Palm Coast Homes
100 Plus Realty LLC - Palm Coast, FL
Palm Coast/Flagler County Real Estate, The Ross/Co

Michelle - it is true that people who have owned pools in the past will not even think about owning another pool home...but it seems to be that first time Florida buyers from up north see it as a must...until of course they decide to buy thier next home in Florida ;-)

Several of my customers have told me they thought when they bought the pool home that the kids or grandkids would use it and bought the home with the pool for them...only to find out that when the kids came to visit, they preferred the beach or other activities and spent very little time in the pool.

It also gets rather cool here in the winter months and swimming in a pool that is not heated would have a sever shrinkage effect on most men...if you know what I mean ;-)  North Florida has a much different winter climate than Miami and the Islands.

Thanks for your comment...Kristi

Jul 26, 2008 02:34 PM
Anita Hoppenstand
A1A Home Staging LLC - Palm Coast, FL
A1A Home Staging LLC

Hi Kristi - good post with a lot of good information.  However, as a homeowner with a pool I would like to point out that not all pools are expensive to maintain and the benefits are many. 

I have a pool that is almost maintenance free.  It uses a Zodiac Salt Chlorinator to create its own chlorine.  I don't know how it works - it is a magical chemical process.  I add a bag of salt or two once or twice a year and that is it.  I do not add any chlorine.  The water is soft and does not smell or feel chlorinated.  I also have a Baricuda vacuum system that just scoots itself along the walls and pool floor when the pump is running. 

My pool is open to the sun and air (I do not have a screen) and it warms up by late spring for swimming.  I was born in Miami and raised in South Florida so I do NOT like cold water and definitely like a warm pool.  I get a good 6 months of swim time in my pool.  My husband and kids tolerate cool water better and swim in it even longer.

Our homeowners insurance did not increase when we added the pool.  A screen enclosure would have raised the premium but we don't have one so that was not a problem.  Because we meet all codes with regard to child protection, our agent felt our liability levels were fine. 

We live just 800 feet from the ocean so why have a pool?  Some days the ocean is just too rough to swim and lounge in and the past two summers with the upwelling phenomena, the ocean has been a little too cold for swimming.  Some hot summer nights I just enjoy going out the back door and slipping into the pool to relax, enjoy the night sky, and cool down.  I also enjoy the cool fresh water after a day in the salt at the beach.  As a born and raised Floridian, I have loved every pool we had and wanted one in the homes that did not have one.

Is there work involved?  Sure.  I brush the pool walls every week or so and net the occasional leaves that fall in.  I clean the filter with the garden hose once a week.  I check the chemical levels and add chemicals as needed, but honestly I do not spend more than an hour a week on pool maintenance.  Less in the winter.  I know I am fortunate, that everyone does not have pools that are as easy to maintain as mine is, but I would hate for everyone to get the idea that all swimming pools are a lot of work and may not be worth the many theraputic benefits they can provide.

Anita

easy maintenance pool

Aug 10, 2008 05:10 AM
Palm Coast Homes
100 Plus Realty LLC - Palm Coast, FL
Palm Coast/Flagler County Real Estate, The Ross/Co

Hey Anita- Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the great addition of information about pools. Your pool looks beautiful.

You having grown up and lived in Florida with pools is much different than the people from up north that are moving here and have never owned a pool and buy them only because of the dream not the reality. I for one have never regretted not having a pool here. Although my dogs would have LOVED it.

 I agree that if you are a pool person...and prepared for the costs and maintenance that it could be a personal asset...but may not be a practical asset for a home always...depends on the age, design etc.. That is great that your pool is warm enough to use so often...most of my friends complain about how cold their water always is...are you west or south facing on your pool?  Maybe that make a difference?

 The newer the pool the better of course...sounds like you have the more up to date technologies with your pool and not having to worry about screen damage etc is a plus if you are in an area that you can properly secure the pool with the proper fencing and child protection and don't have to worry about critters slinking into it ;-) 

The additional cost for insurance comes from the extra liability ccoverage( super highly recommended)...not the actual pool. All it takes is one mischievous teen out for a late night swim while you are out of town or a friend visiting for a swim party that somehow gets injured to make you wishing you had added the additional insurance....it is sad that our society is so litigious these days. I am super sensative to this as I have a family member that has seen the worst of the worst in the insurance biz.  She worked for an insurance company for years and has many a horror story to tell...eeeks!!!!

I am constantly amazed by my customers that tell me a couple of years after having bought their first Palm Coast home that they wish they did not have a pool. ~sigh~

I also agree with you...as much as I love walking and jogging the beaches here in Flagler County and taking my dogs for swims...you could not pay me enough to go in the Ocean here...between the rocks and the sharks....I am not that brave :-)

I am glad that you added you comments....it is always great to have different perspectives.

Aug 10, 2008 06:15 AM
Dan Dowling
Dan Dowling - United Mortgage Capital Corp. - Altamonte Springs, FL

Kristi:

I appreciate the thought you put into this. I will say some areas around Central Florida don't sell well without a pool. This is where good knowledge of your local market  means everything. Great post.

Dan

Aug 12, 2008 02:24 AM
Palm Coast Homes
100 Plus Realty LLC - Palm Coast, FL
Palm Coast/Flagler County Real Estate, The Ross/Co

Dan - Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment. 

I have seen it many, many times...people coming to Florida purchasing a home with a pool and then regretting the decision.  I have never had a customer come back to me and say they wish they would have bought a house with a pool instead...especially since they are usually better off designing their own and having one built to their specifications if they really decide they need a pool later. 

 I really cringe when I see people pass on or refuse to look at a better located, better quality home and missing out on a better value...because a house did not have an existing pool...but when people become emotional about what they want versus what they need...it can get tough.

We have a community pool in this area, and most of the gated communities have pools...so many different options for people.

My only comment really is...only buy a home with a pool if you absolutely must have one and you are fully aware of the care and feeding of your cement pond :-)

 

Aug 12, 2008 02:53 AM
Anita Hoppenstand
A1A Home Staging LLC - Palm Coast, FL
A1A Home Staging LLC

Hi Kristi.  Isn't it great how these diaglogues get started on AR?  I just love it.

In answer to your question, my pool is on the north side of my home!  Not having a screen is what makes it warmer.  I would be willing to wager a bet that your friends with cold pools have screen enclosures (and possibly shade from the house).  My pool is in the upper 80's right now and has been for most of the summer.  When we were kids in South Florida, we only swam in pools that didn't have the screens unless it was the hottest time of the summer.  The screened in pools were always cold.

My concern here is that I am about to list my home and I am now fearful that potential buyers will have the mistaken impression that my pool is a lot of work to take care of and costs a lot to maintain.  I completely agree that some pools are costly and problematic - but certainly not all.

Thanks again for your informative posts.

Anita

Aug 12, 2008 03:15 AM
Palm Coast Homes
100 Plus Realty LLC - Palm Coast, FL
Palm Coast/Flagler County Real Estate, The Ross/Co

Hi Anita - The picture of your pool is beautiful and sounds like you have a great set up...I don't think you would have any problems selling your home based on my pool post :-)

I absolutely appreciate your information and insight.  Please feel free to share anytime...in fact...maybe you would like to be a guest blogger about staging on my outside blog that is tied to my website?

Aug 12, 2008 03:29 AM
Rob Arnold
Sand Dollar Realty Group, Inc. - Altamonte Springs, FL
Metro Orlando Full Service - Investor Friendly & F

Pools are definitely quite expensive.  Higher utility bills, lots of chemicals, and plenty of work. 

Sep 08, 2008 02:27 AM
The Villages Florida Real Estate
RE/MAX Premier Realty - The Villages, FL
Living and Loving Florida!

Nebies to Florida who want a pool should definitely be prepared for the upkeep. I myself am guilty of having the "cement pond".

Jan 10, 2009 03:36 PM
Dine Nearby
DineNearby.com - Lake Mary, FL
Printable Restaurant Coupons

I have had a pool as well and found that I didn't use it enough to make it worthwhile.  It was a saltwater pool as was mentioned earlier, so the chemicals weren't too bad, but within a year of my purchase of the house, the part that creates the chemical reaction went bad and cost me over $700 to replace.  That would have been a lot of chlorine.....

After having one, I wouldn't want one again.

Apr 14, 2009 08:18 AM
Rob Arnold
Sand Dollar Realty Group, Inc. - Altamonte Springs, FL
Metro Orlando Full Service - Investor Friendly & F

Everybody in Florida needs a pool at least once don't they? Seriously though unless you use your pool regularly, you would be best off using a city pool or the YMCA.  Pools are expensive and the upkeep can take a bunch of work.

Jul 22, 2009 02:51 AM
Jeffrey Funk
eXp Realty - Windermere, FL
Broker Associate | Team Leader

I totally agree with Anita. Not all pools are overly expensive to maintain. Yes, there are maintenance costs, but the benefits far out weigh the downsides. Even if you are not a swimmer, they create beautiful ambiance.

Interesting post, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Jeff - Orlando Real Estate

May 10, 2012 06:28 AM