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Buying and Selling Corner: Should I Install a Swimming Pool?

(cover photo via Flickr/Sonja Lovas)

Everyone loves a good pool party with a summer cookout. However, here on Cape Ann, it’s not likely you’ll come across a majority of real estate listings that include a pool. That’s mostly just a function of our climate - an unheated pool here in the Northeast US will typically only see 3-4 months of use, and a heated pool can extend the season by a month or so both in the spring and fall. Unfortunately, this means those who have a pool here in Massachusetts are at a disadvantage over the more southern parts of the United States when it comes to cost of the pool versus the time you get to enjoy it. Don't worry, there are still some great advantages to having a pool - from social gatherings, to exercise, to relaxation. We’ll break down whether or not having a pool in New England is a deal breaker to buyers or sellers, and explain how it may impact your home’s market value. 

(Image via Flickr/Wicker Paradise)

Generally speaking, it’s not a good idea here in New England to put a pool in, whether above-ground or in-ground, if the reasoning for doing so is mostly about improving the value of your home. When push comes to shove, a newly installed in-ground pool averages about $30,000 in installation - plus the additional costs of fully fencing a yard for safety and the annual and monthly upkeep. It’s quite a lot of cash to lay out for something that’s used only several months of the year, and our blog has previously researched home improvements that give you the best return on investment. If you’ve been wishing for a pool for years, are used to owning a pool and know you’ll use it, or have children who love swimming or are on the local swim team by all means, you should install one. Just don’t expect to see any major return on the cost of installation when it comes time to sell the home. In this part of the country, a pool is really more of a lifestyle expenditure, and not likely to work in your favor as a major investment in the future of your home’s value. 

However, in a housing market that’s heating up like ours, your home, with its beautiful pool, may just well sell quickly without languishing on the market and becoming stale - there’s a good chance that buyers who have been seeking a pool, are interested in a pool, or are willing to deal with one or its removal because they love the rest of the package will come along and make an offer. 

(Photo via Flickr/Julian Haler)

Plus, according to financial guru Dave Ramsey’s blog, a pool is more likely to add value if it fits in well with the neighborhood (especially in areas with larger homes and yards that may also have similar pools), if there is sufficient remaining yard space with the pool installed, and if the pool is well-maintained. Most likely, one or more buyers will eventually come along who are looking for a pool - and then, it can be a fine selling point. 

But Should You Buy A Home With A Pool?

Picture your dream home. Now, imagine you find the perfect home that checks off everything on your list - but it has a pool you weren’t expecting. Now what?

 If a pool wasn’t on your list, don’t let it be an automatic dealbreaker without doing some research into what you’ll actually need to do. Those who have never owned pools may be wary of the annual and seasonal costs of the pool, but they could end up being pleasantly surprised at the typical annual costs. Furthermore, there are ways to lower the cost by opening and closing the pool yourself. It’s best to take an afternoon and visit a local pool and spa store to get advice from knowledgeable local professionals. For instance, St Cyr’s Pool and Spa, located in Middleton, is worth a visit or phone call if you’re seriously considering putting an offer on a home with a pool. You’ll need to learn about the chemicals involved, the filtration system, the pumping system, and how to keep your pool clean. You can also get a quote for many kinds of service, including pressure testing your pool’s lines, vacuuming services, liner replacements, winterizing, opening and closing, adding diving boards or ladders, or anything else the home’s former owners suggest. 

If you intend on purchasing a home with a pool already installed after doing research, make sure you take the necessary safety precautions, whether or not you have small children. It’s important not only for safety, but also it’s more than likely mandatory for your home’s liability insurance. Your pool should be in a yard that has a full fence of four feet or higher, and a self-closing, locking gate or removable padlock helps mitigate risk and can keep unwanted trespassers out of your yard. If you have an above-ground pool, a removable ladder is imperative for safety, even with a fenced yard. Pool and gate alarms should be installed as well. Lastly, always make sure the pool has adequate drain covers. 

A lockable safety cover or automatic pool cover is also a very good idea. An auto-cover, which is installed on rails and can be operated remotely, is made to safely close the pool and can withstand the weight of a full-grown adult. It can require a keycode to open, so there’s no chance any neighborhood teenagers will take an illicit dip while you’re away. These covers can be pricey, but will give you peace of mind and may also qualify you for a discount on your homeowner’s policy. 

Once you own your pool, it’s important that all visitors and household members know your home’s pool rules. For instance, no one should ever swim alone. Everyone in the home should know basic water safety and be able to swim. Keep a charged cell phone handy and close to the pool (but not too close… plunk!) when swimming. Don’t allow running near the pool, and always make sure there is a flotation device nearby before anyone swims.

Whether you decide to put a pool in your current home, buy a home that has a pool, or are just in the research stages of pool ownership, keep in mind that a pool may not give you a great return on investment here in the Cape Ann real estate market, but that shouldn’t stop you from following your dreams. With the proper safety tips and care, a pool can bring you and your family years of joy, relaxation, and exercise. 

Do you own a pool, or wish you did? Follow us on Facebook to let us know how you feel! 

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