Potential buyers of your house will either view an in-ground swimming pool as relaxing oasis, social hub, and prime way to exercise—or just another maintenance hassle.
“Lot of times with clients, they’re either pool people or they’re not pool people,” says Robert Ryczek, a real estate agent with 41 years of experience in Florida’s Fort Lauderdale and Gainesville areas.
“The people that I find have two or three children, and they want to invite all the classmates over, a pool is pretty high on their list. In some cases, you’ve got the grandparents who want to have all the pool parties.”
Can you change the mind of a pool hater? Nope, consider them a lost cause! Instead you need to target your efforts for selling a house with a pool toward the party people—but even they’ll turn up their nose at an ugly cement pond. So let’s go through exactly how to show this home amenity in its best, sparkling light to capture the attention of the perfect buyer.
Does a pool add dollar value to your house?
At least 16% of American homes have a pool, according to the 2011 American Housing Survey. More recent data found that of the 6,500 homeowners participating in the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, 402 (or about 6%) spent about $4.5 million nationwide in 2015 on recreational improvements such as a swimming pool or tennis court.
Having a pool is a bit like buying a new car. It comes with value which then depreciates due to necessary maintenance. There’s also the cost of the recommended liability insurance. Even so, some experts say a pool could boost your list price by as much as 7% depending on the age and condition of your pool and where you live.
A 2015 survey of property records for single-family homes found that the top medium-to-large cities with the highest percentages of backyard pools were—no surprise—in Florida (Coral Springs), Arizona (Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler, Glendale), California (Clovis), and Texas (Plano).
Depending on your price range, a pool can be an expected amenity. Ivory Cooks, a top-selling Miami agent, said in the Miami Herald in 2017 that 60% of homes that sold in the $1-2 million range in Miami Beach over the previous 12 months had pools. Of homes sold during the same time frame priced from $2 million to $3 million, 87% had pools.
“[Pools] have evolved from simple amusement areas (primarily for kids) into critical showpieces for my clients, who entertain regularly and need a perfect venue for events and gatherings,” Cooks told the Herald. “They want their backyard and outdoor environment to be an extension of their main living area.”
Even if you’re in a more modest price range of, say, about $350,000, “most of those homes are going to have a pool because it’s pretty standard once you get past a certain point,” Ryczek said. “If it’s a newer pool, say, within the last 5, 6, 7 years, you’re able to get a little better value. But I’ve seen older homes, 25-30 year old homes, where … sales haven’t really been much more than $12,000 to $14,000 more than what the non-pool homes have sold for.”
Selling a house with a pool: 5 tips to make it feel like a luxury amenity
Beyond the potential dollar value a pool adds to your home, there’s also the marketability factor to consider. Buyers are often driven by emotion and make decisions based on their vision for a certain type of lifestyle that they believe will come with their purchase of a house.
An expertly staged pool that helps buyers imagine a refreshing dip on a hot day or lounging around the deck with friends is powerful. These types of reveries by design have a big impact on how well your home shows—if you’re willing to put in the work to make it happen.
Tip #1: Put your pool maintenance on overdrive before showings begin
When you’re trying to sell a house with a pool, kick the maintenance up a notch. According to Smart Money, maintaining a pool year-round costs about $3,000 to $5,000 annually, depending on the heating system, circulation pump and filtration, adjusted chemical levels, and other standard expenses.
Before you list your property, you’ll want to make sure that the water chemistry is balanced; the pool equipment is working properly; the skimmer, basket, and filter are clean; the bottom has been vacuumed; and the water is free of plant matter, bugs, and other debris.
Cleaning a pool can cost $75 to $150 monthly based on weekly cleanings. If you’ve been lax, now’s the time to spring for a two- to three-hour cleaning job of about $150 to $300 (or up to $500 to $600 to completely drain and clean the pool if you can’t see the bottom on the deep end).
Common repairs that a pool needs are minor cracks in the pool’s cement, rips in a vinyl liner, or leaks around lights, pumps, and fittings. Service costs vary by region, ranging from $100 to $200 or $750 to $1,200 range, depending on what’s needed.
If the pool’s interior plaster finish has a few spots or stains, “maybe we would try getting away with the pool home sold and not dealing with it. Other times, if it’s been not addressed for 4, 5, or 6 years, it’s in pretty bad shape,” Ryczek said. “Like anything that you deal with selling property, you try to deal with the issues or potential issues upfront so there’s no surprises. Sometimes if it’s really bad, I’ve recommended people go ahead and have the pool itself redone.”
If you’ve had any pool equipment replaced or repaired, keep your receipts for the home inspection and as a possible selling point. Some variable-speed pool pumps, for instance, have Energy Star certification and reportedly save as much as $1,500 in energy costs per year compared to traditional single-speed pumps. A Hayward TriStar VS 900 variable-speed pump sells for about $1,299.
A quick but effective way to spruce up the pool is to repair cracks on the pool deck and perhaps paint or pressure wash it. Also, if the pool is enclosed by a screen—which reduces maintenance by keeping leaves out of the pool—clean up the screen as well as well. “Make sure it doesn’t have 10 years of leaves on top of it,” Ryczek said.
Tip #2: Allay buyer concerns about the pool’s dangers by installing safety measures
Already installed safety measures can reassure families with young children who might be concerned about having a pool. Many municipalities require some type of barrier that separates the pool area from the house and yard, such as a 4-foot fence that encloses the entire pool. (Yes, even if you have a fenced-in yard.)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says such an isolation fence reduces a child’s risk of drowning by 83%, compared to a pool with a three-sided property line.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward to prevent young children from accessing the pool. Automatic door locks and alarms also can prevent access and alert you if someone enters the pool area.
You’ll also want to share what you’ve spent on home insurance fees, as having a pool on your property increases your home’s liability.
A basic homeowners insurance policy typically will cover a pool structure, but some experts recommend bumping your coverage from $100,000 to $500,000, which can cost about $30 per year.
Tip #3: List the house during your market’s prime pool season
In a market like South Florida, which includes Tampa, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami, there’s no right or wrong season to sell a house with a pool because the weather is predominantly warm, Ryczek said.
But if you live in an area with more seasonal weather—including even Gainesville, where the University of Florida drives a lot of the activity—you’ll want to get the word out ahead of when people are likely to use the pool. “In the North Florida area, it seems like our very best time has typically been mid-January through June, and maybe the first week of July,” Ryczek said.
In the Midwest and Northeast, of course, the pool won’t show its best when it’s closed up and iced over—so listing your house in the late spring or summer months will give buyers the best impressions of your hot-weather home amenity.
Tip #4: Brag about all your pool’s extra bells and whistles
Let your real estate agent know what the pool’s bragging points are. A pool appeals to a certain aesthetic, fit lifestyle, so even if the water’s crystal clear, “there are other vital factors to consider,” Cooks wrote in the Miami Herald. “[M]y buyers want cascading waterfalls, elegant fountains, charming gazebos, modern cabanas, outdoor kitchens, secret gardens, showers, dining areas…”
Perhaps you have a solar heater, a built-in hot tub, a sound system, or a summer kitchen.
“Do you have an entertainment center around that pool? If people really are pool people, they like the package with all the bells and whistles,” Ryczek said.
Tip #5: Stage the deck like paradise with ‘poolscaping’
A potential buyer will look at more than just the pool itself. The landscaping and furniture are part of the environment.
Although a professional landscape designer may be of help here, Kazdin Pools Spas of Southampton, N.Y., suggests surrounding your pool with strategically placed potted plants, as well as a lush lawn and trimmed bushes, trees, and hedges.
Put away the pool floats and other toys, which can make the pool area look disorganized. Stow the pool equipment where it belongs.
Chaise lounges, recliners, and accent tables help make the pool area inviting. Try the all-weather wicker patio furniture at Target, which includes rust-resistant steel framing.
Target’s Global Neutrals Outdoor Patio collection ranges from $59.99 to $329.99 and includes a pouf, a club chair, a loveseat, a coffee table with storage, a fire column, and a cozy three-piece chat set. Wayfair also features a variety of outdoor club chairs, conversation sets, and other furniture, such as Mistana Tillis Double Teak Chaise Lounge with Cushion for $319.99.
Remember that your “poolscape” should be able to handle partial to full sun and humidity, as well as splashes of chlorine or salt and pool cleaning supplies, said Majestic Lawn Care and Landscape of New City, N.Y.
Potted palms, banana trees, ferns and birds of paradise are hardy and add texture as well as visual appeal. Black-eyed Susans, elephant ears, and daylilies provide splashes of color, and mulch adds a finishing earth touch.
Most of all, if you’ve enjoyed having a pool in your home, let that show. A pool that’s provided years of joy—and is obviously well-maintained—is sure to tempt buyers eager to make a splash.
Header Image Source: (Thought Catalog/ Unsplash)