Imagine transforming your backyard into a tranquil, tropical oasis and hosting countless parties and fun-filled special occasions in and around your sparkling new swimming pool. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it?
But before you take the plunge and invest tens of thousands of your hard-earned dollars to install that pool you’ve always wanted, here are some considerations to determine whether a pool is really a worthwhile investment for you and your family.
Will Installing a Pool Increase Resale Value of Your Home?
A pool should only be installed if you think it will enhance your and your family's life, not because you think it's going to increase the value of your home. It won’t, with a few possible exceptions:
- Your house is in a high-end neighborhood and all your neighbors already have a pool
- You live in a very warm climate and the pool is used year-round
- There is plenty of room for not only a pool but also a yard and/or garden
For starters, the cost of installing an inground pool ranges from $20,000 to $50,000 and beyond depending on your location and design preferences. That doesn’t even include maintenance, insurance and upkeep costs, which we’ll get to in a bit.
Naturally, pools are more common in warmer areas like Florida, Arizona and Southern California, where they can be assets that do indeed increase home values and help sell homes. To buyers in cooler climates, though, a swimming pool often represents more work and less enjoyment, with a lower return of equity.
According to HouseLogic.com, if you sell your home within 20 years of installing a pool it’s likely that you will not recoup your costs. Optimistic experts suggest that a installing an inground pool may add between 4 and 7 percent to your home’s resale value, which still doesn’t seem a sufficient reason to justify the expense. Bottom line: if you really want a pool, get one for the entertainment or exercise value, but if resale value is your primary motivation, this article offers some equity-boosting home renovations, all of which require a smaller investment than a pool yet offer more substantial return for your money.
Pool Maintenance & Upkeep
When calculating the costs of installing a pool to your home, installation is just the high dive. The monthly pool maintenance and upkeep costs aren’t too prohibitive and include higher energy and water bills, pool salt or chemicals and possibly a pool service to handle ongoing maintenance. However, you also need to consider footing the bill for worn out parts for your filter, pool pump, heater and other equipment, along with resurfacing the pool every 10 to 15 years. On top of that, safety features and insurance are a must, especially if you have children that will be using the pool.
Above-ground pools are considerably cheaper to install, but leveling the ground, running electricity to the pump and constructing a deck or retaining walls can run up costs quickly. Depending on codes requirements in your area, you may have to put up a fence and/or have a locking ladder and pool alarm as well.
Remember, a swimming pool is synonymous with outdoor living, and that lifestyle tends to come with a higher price tag. As your expenses inevitably increase, make sure your usual monthly income can keep up with the cash flow.
Outdoor Alternatives to Installing a Pool
If you really want to add value to your home there are some outdoor alternatives to consider. A survey by the National Association of REALTORS found that buyers would be more willing to pay a premium for an outdoor living room or deck. These have become increasingly popular and can be installed for much less money than a pool. The idea is to create an area where there is seating for six to eight people with elements like a fire pit and a fan. It's also preferable to have the area covered.
Just for the Kicks
By now, you get the picture: a installing a pool is a sizable expense and lasting responsibility, not the equity-enhancing asset that many people think. If you want a pool, get one just for the joy it can bring your family and friends, for the intrinsic—not financial--value. Here are some hard water questions to ask yourself before diving in:
- How old are your children and how many years of swimming and pool-related fun can you expect them to enjoy before becoming distracted in high school or heading off to college?
- How many years do you expect to remain in your home?
- Will your family be content to spend summers at home by the pool or will your yearly travel plans and preferences lead to sporadic or decreased pool use?
- Are there any safety or health-related concerns that would impact you or your family’s ability to use and care for a pool?
About the Author
With over 30 years of experience, Diana brings a wealth of real estate knowledge and expertise with her timely and insightful articles, videos and webinars.