Desare Kohn-Laski has the next best thing to owning her own pool – two neighborhood pools that she can take her family to anytime.
But as the broker-owner at Skye Louis Realty in Coconut Creek, Fla., she runs into buyers who definitely want a pool and buyers who definitely don’t want a pool.
“There is no in between for people,” she says.
But before jumping in to buying a house with a pool or building your own in-ground pool, here are some points to consider:
Social life and exercise increased
If you have a pool, your kids and grandkids always have something to do to be active, Kohn-Laski adds.
“They can burn calories and have fun with friends. And in areas like Florida, you can basically use them year-round if you have a heater,” she explains.
On the other hand, if you have a backyard pool, you become the hot spot for all the neighbors and relatives. Depending on your point of view, that could be a good thing or a bad thing.
Make sure to have lots of towels, sunscreen and snacks with the number of people that will be stopping by.
“If you have a pool, something will break,” Kohn-Laski says.
Although her regular home does not have a pool, her family owns a vacation beach house with a pool. They just resurfaced the pool at a price of $4,500. She estimates that most pools need resurfaced every 10 years or so.
A pool filter, heater, liner or automatic vacuum system can also need repaired or replaced from time to time, adding to the expenses.
You also need chemicals, filters and cleaning throughout the time the pool is open. Typically, she says, that can cost $75 to $90 a month. If you hire someone to do it, it could cost more.
In the state of Florida and other states, counties or municipalities, the law states that the pool must be fenced in either with a fence around the backyard or around the pool itself, Kohn-Laski says.
Contact your municipality to learn those local standards and building codes. These can include installing a certain size fence, locks, decks and pool safety equipment, according to the Insurance Information Institute (iii).
For those with little kids, you might want to even go a step farther with motion detectors and cameras for the swimming area.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 7.4 million swimming pools are in use in the United States, and nearly 3,500 unintentional drownings happened in those pools from 2005-2014.
The World Health Organization says that drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death in children aged 1–14 years in the U.S. So, yes, safety is a big concern if you have a pool, and that can cost money.
A pool is labeled as an “attractive nuisance” by the insurance industry, notes the iii. It increases your liability risk, so the institute suggests you contact your insurance agent if you plan in installing a pool or you have one.
Pools owners should consider raising their liability portion of their homeowners’ policy to at least $300,000 or $500,000 or more, depending what your assets are. According to House Logic, it costs only $30 a year to bump coverage from $100,000 to $500,000.
Underwriters may also have their own requirements — such as a fence –to be able to write the policy.
Some areas of the country will increase your property taxes when you add a pool. House Logic recommends trying to keep your total building cost of the pool between 10 to 15 percent of what you paid for the house.
Value added or deterred
Kohn-Laski says that if two identical homes were for sale in her area of the county and one has a pool, that house would sell for $15,000 more. But in Florida, it’s warm 10 months of the year. The bad thing is that that pool might have cost the owners $50,000 or more to put in, she says.
House Logic says a pool makes financial sense if you live in a higher-end neighborhood and most of the homes around you have pools. In fact, it will be harder to sell the home if you don’t put one in. The bad news is that your home’s value could only increase 7 percent when you sell the home only if the condition and age of the pool are good, and the style of the pool fit your neighborhood.
Whatever you decide, just remember that a pool has its good and bad sides – just like any other amenity at your house. It takes money to insure it and keep it running well. It takes time (for cleaning and maintaining it). But for those who truly enjoy it, all those costs and efforts are worth it.