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Does a swimming pool add value to your home?

A house with a backyard swimming pool
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Here’s a cool and refreshing thought: Does a pool add value to your home? Research suggests that it does, but know what you’re getting into before committing to a swimming pool. Maintenance, repairs and insurance coverage can be costly, and there’s no guarantee that your home will sell for more down the road because of the pool.

Does a pool add value to a home?

Many experts say having a well-kept pool can boost your resale value, especially an inground pool.

“If you search for real estate, you will most certainly see a higher cost for homes with ready-made backyards that include pools,” says Ralph DiBugnara, president of New York City-headquartered Home Qualified, a digital resource for homebuyers, sellers and Realtors.

Melissa Zavala, a broker with Broadpoint Properties in San Diego, agrees.

“Specifically now, in the age of coronavirus, many buyers are seeking a pool. They like the idea that their home is a one-stop shop for all their summer entertainment activities since they are concerned about leaving the house,” says Zavala.

Tom Casey, vice president of sales at Anthony & Sylvan Pools in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, says pools are more coveted in warmer regions where they can be used year-round.

“If you live in a warmer climate like Florida or Texas, it can increase your property value and make it more likely to sell your home,” notes Casey. “Coastal or resort communities with vacation home rentals allow owners with swimming pool properties to command higher rental rates than nearby properties without them. And higher-end neighborhoods are also more amenable to pools that increase a home’s resale value.”

In fact, if most of your neighbors have pools but you don’t, it could decrease your home’s worth on the market.

“But if you live in a typical community where some houses have pools but most do not, having a pool built will probably not have any impact on the value of your home,” cautions Robert Taylor, owner of The Real Estate Solutions Guy in Sacramento, a homebuying and flipping company.

Not all pools are built alike, however.

“In many markets, inground pools are preferred and above-ground pools do not increase the value of a home,” Zavala says.

Cost to install a pool

According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost to build an inground pool, including labor and materials, ranges from $20,000 to $60,000 for a fiberglass pool and $35,000 to $100,000 for one made from gunite or concrete. The typical tab for an above-ground model spans $1,500 to $15,000.

Those expected prices are in line with what Casey estimates.

“Bear in mind that, although inground pools are pricier, they tend to last years longer than above-ground pools,” says Casey.

Cost to maintain a pool

Pool upkeep and repair isn’t cheap, either. HomeAdvisor reports that the average cost for basic pool maintenance annually is $1,200 to $1,800. Throw in needed repairs and utility costs (like water and, if you use a pool heater, fuel) and the combined yearly total can range from $3,000 to $5,000.

Upkeep will require buying and adding chemicals to maintain proper pH levels and prevent algae growth, having the pool vacuumed and cleaned regularly during swimming season, and purchasing accessories like telescoping poles and attachable brushes and leaf skimmers.

“Homeowners can significantly lower their costs by doing some of the maintenance themselves instead of hiring a pool service,” suggests Casey. “Additionally, your costs can be lower if you invest in a saltwater pool rather than a chlorine pool.”

Cost to insure a pool

Another cost to factor in is the price to insure your home — your homeowners insurance premiums will likely be higher when you have a pool.

Lev Barinskiy, CEO of SmartFinancial Insurance in Costa Mesa, California, says most policies usually cover up to 10 percent of the cost to replace an external structure like a pool, and also at least partially cover most swimming pool accidents.

“But even though the liability portion of your homeowners insurance covers pool accidents if a guest is injured or dies, you can still be legally held accountable if you were not providing a safe swimming environment when you allowed guests to use your pool,” Barinskiy says.

If your insurer considers the pool an external structure, you need to list it as one on your policy,” adds Barinskiy, noting that most policies require that you have a fence installed around the pool and eliminate any diving board.

It may also be smart to pay for a personal umbrella policy that gives liability protection beyond the limits of your homeowners policy.

How much value does a pool add to a home?

The experts are a split on how much a pool can contribute to a home’s value.

One HouseLogic study suggests an increase of 7 percent, at most, under ideal conditions, while HGTV reports that the average inground pool can up your property’s value by 5 to 8 percent. Another analysis by the brokerage Redfin of 19 warm-weather markets found that a pool can add between $11,591 and $95,393 in value to your home.

As is true of virtually any facet of real estate, location makes a big difference.

“In towns with a below-average amount of pools, a homeowner with a pool could see a large increase in value because of their unique selling proposition,” DiBugnara explains. “Also, neighborhoods that are heavily populated with school-age children will likely see the greatest increase in the need for pools.”

Be forewarned, however: The presence of a pool isn’t enough to raise your likelihood of higher resale value.

“A poorly maintained pool in need of repair or maintenance could drag your home value down and deter buyers,” cautions DiBugnara.

If you’re pondering having a pool built, consider paying for a professional appraisal. This expert can best evaluate if adding a pool will augment your home’s value

How to finance a pool

Eager to build a pool? Chances are you may need to borrow money for that purchase. The good news is that interest rates are near historic lows, which means the cost to borrow money is cheap.

If you qualify, you have several pool financing options:

  • Pursue a cash-out refinance, whereby you tap your home’s equity and take extra cash out at closing that you can devote to the pool.
  • Apply for a home equity loan, in which you pull equity from your home in the form of a fixed-rate second mortgage.
  • Consider a home equity line of credit (HELOC), which works as an adjustable-rate line of credit you can draw from when needed, up to a preapproved limit.
  • Opt for a personal loan, which is an unsecured loan that doesn’t require collateral or tap into your home’s equity, but may come with a higher interest rate.
  • Choose a credit card, which can be a viable alternative if you don’t qualify for any of the above and you are approved for a zero- to low-rate card that you can pay off before the introductory rate expires and higher rates kick in.

Bottom line 

The decision to build a pool or buy a home that includes one shouldn’t be taken lightly. Think carefully about when and how much you intend to use it. Explore the extent to which it can factor into your entertaining and recreational plans, and determine if you’ll have the means and local resources to keep the pool operating in good condition.

Lastly, give thought to how you’ll need to prep and market your property and swimming pool when it’s time to sell.

“You need to cater to the right buyer and employ good marketing tactics. The pool will need to be repaired and cleaned, and you’ll want to nicely stage your outdoor retreat,” recommends Casey, who also notes that higher-end buyers, as well as families with kids or teens, are the most likely buyer candidates.

“And if you’re in a colder climate, you should wait to sell when the weather is nice and your pool will be open,” Casey says.

Featured image by JohnnyGreig of Getty Images.

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Written by
Erik J. Martin
Contributing writer
Erik J. Martin is a Chicago area-based freelance writer/editor whose articles have been featured in AARP The Magazine, Reader's Digest, The Costco Connection, The Motley Fool and other publications. He often writes on topics related to real estate, business, technology, health care, insurance and entertainment.