Pools are a hard home feature to pin down as far as value. While many realtors will tell you how much buyers love them, just as many will tell you the opposite. We’ve spoken to some experts and compiled a list of definitive truths about selling your home with a pool. So read on for some tips and tricks on what you can do to make your home-plus-pool sale run smoothly, and just how you can market your aquatic dreams to the next owner.
How Pools Add Value: Different Pool Types
Let’s start by getting down the basics: There’s a big difference between an in-ground pool and an above-pool. While an in-ground pool is much more expensive and timely to install, this permanent investment is the only real way to add any sort of swimmy-value to your home. As the name would suggest, these pools are installed into the ground of your yard or garden, often using concrete.
On the flip side, the equally intuitively named above-ground pools are installed quickly above ground (usually arriving in a kit with IKEA-style instructions) and are made of plastics and metal enforcements. While you personally might have invested a fair share in your new aquatic playground (and the landscaping that surrounds it), these pools won’t provide a thing when it comes to the resale value of your home.
Why Pools Are Tricky
Pools are a hard sell when it comes to getting a fair price for your home, and it’s not just because your buyer might have missed the Michael Phelps craze that struck the nation during previous summer Olympics. Pools are also an extremely personal home investment, and people have a myriad of reasons for wanting vs. not wanting them— not the least of which is the inherent expense.
Even though you were the one who paid the hefty initial upfront cost, the educated buyer is well aware of the maintenance expenses that go into owning a home with a pool— whether it’s above- or below-ground. According to Houselogic.com and Dave Ramsey, pools cost on average $1k per year to maintain between the seasonal opening and closing costs, adding the necessary chemicals to keep them clean, and the utility bills to run the pump and heater every month.
However, Ramsey still says that a well-marketed (in-ground) pool could boost your home’s value by as much as 7%.
So when do pools provide that boost? Let’s go back to the ever-repetitive notion of location.
Pool Value: Why Location Matters
Location, also known as real estate’s favorite measuring stick, plays an obvious role in guaranteeing buyer interest in a home with a pool. There’s a big difference for buyers between inheriting something that will enhance their quality of life year-round, vs. an expensive and irritating summer season extra.
Places with warmer climates will always be the ideal marketplaces for pools, as will places that get uncomfortably hot certain months during the year. If a pool is quality of life-enhancing rather than hindering, you’re that much more likely to have interested buyers.
Says top luxury real estate agent Pam Zaragoza of Burlingame, CA, “It’s definitely regional, and it would matter what kind of buyers you have. People in Florida and LA really want a pool. Pools are also popular in Palo Alto- where many estates have them.”
According to Ramsey, pools can help a sale when you live in a higher-end neighborhood where your neighbors have pools and when you live in warmer climates like Florida, Arizona or Hawaii. He also mentions the importance of making sure the style of your pool matches the house and surrounding property, and that it doesn’t completely consume your outdoor space.
The best pools are the ones that make sense for your location and compliment your property. If it’s just an expensive eyesore, you’d be better off removing it.
Selling with a Pool: Know Your Buyers
When marketing your home and pool for sale it’s important to know your target buyer.
The folks at American Home Shield break this group down nicely to include the high-end buyers, the middle-aged buyers with teenagers, and the health enthusiasts. The reasoning? High-end buyers are thought to be more likely to purchase a home with a pool than a starter or mid-range buyers, while middle-aged couples with kids will enjoy having a pool for their restless teenagers. Health- or outdoor enthusiasts might even like your pool for swimming laps, or just relaxing outside during the nice weather.
The caveat here is that not all families with kids will be interested in pools. Says Zaragoza, “The majority of young families with [young] children don’t want pools. [They] don’t want to maintain it, and see it as a safety hazard, they end up filling it in.”
If selling with a pool it’s important to realize in advance that this will inevitably shrink your buyer pool (pun intended) and it might end up taking a bit longer to sell.
How To Sell a Home With a Pool
To successfully sell a home with a pool, it always comes down to great marketing. Having some amazing staged visuals is a must, and even throwing an open house that prominently features your outdoor space won’t hurt.
1. Make It Nice
American Home Shield recommends not only staging your pool space but also really working on how you present it online: “Fix up the surrounding landscaping and give the entire space a thorough scrub-down tucking away all the pool clutter before taking pictures. Rather than say “large pool” in your advertising, say things like, “your own tropical oasis” or “avoid long drives to the lake or beach.” Focus on the experience rather than the pool itself.”
Larry Andersen of In The Swim Blog recommends deep cleaning all pool space and surrounding deck areas, fixing broken parts, and trimming overgrown landscaping. Says Andersen, “Make the pool appear bright and clean, low-maintenance, and safe for children.”
Zaragoza even goes so far as to recommend hiring a professional for some drone work, which can be a great way for your buyer to get a sense of the curb appeal your pool brings to a home.
2. Time It Right
An important aspect of selling your home-plus-pool is to time it right. Your pool should be open and fully-functional when it comes time to sell. Says Andersen, “A closed, covered pool brings a lot of questions and worries in the eyes of home buyers.” With this in mind, you probably want to sell when the weather is nice and it makes sense to have the pool open. “The best time to sell your home with a pool,” says Andersen unsurprisingly, “is when the weather heats up.”
So, Does a Pool Increase Home Value?
You should be prepared to let your home sit on the market a little longer to get the price you want unless of course, it’s a blistering hot summer in Florida- in which case your home might fly right off the market. Be sure to work with your realtor to pull up a pool maintenance history and estimated monthly costs so that you’re ready with these numbers when buyers ask, and then just sit tight.
Real estate agent Thomas Braunagel of Fairfield County, CT says, “it certainly will take a little bit longer to sell, but there’s still always a market for a house with a nice pool.”