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Purchasing a New Home with an In Ground Pool – Yay or Nay?

Most potential home buyers begin their real estate searches with a list of must-haves. An attached garage, 3 bedrooms or more, a finished basement, and located in a good school district. Everyone’s list is a little different, and everyone’s list probably bends, flexes, or changes throughout the process. The perfect home rarely exists. What about a home with an existing in ground pool? Different people have different reactions.
Some people simply will not purchase a home with a pool. They have concerns about the required maintenance, the cost of upkeep, and some with small children have safety concerns. To each their own. The other categories of people—those who require a pool, those who want but don’t demand a pool, and those who hadn’t thought about it—are the ones who have something to think about. This guide is designed to help those groups of people think through whether an in ground swimming pool is for them by making them aware of all the associated benefits and challenges.
Advantages of Pool Ownership.
What are the advantages of owning a pool? The short answer is "that depends". People value things differently. Here are some possible advantages:
  • The aesthetic benefit. A swimming pool can enhance the look of a yard by itself, but especially when paired with flattering details. Examples include decking, patios, lounge spaces, lighting, water fixtures such as waterfalls, and landscaping.
  • The temperature benefit. No matter where you live in the United States, escaping the heat of summer is a must. The ability to flee the heat by taking a dip in a cool swimming pool in your own backyard is a desirable luxury.
  • The social benefit. People love swimming pools and swimming pool parties. If your house has a pool, your backyard can serve as the place to be for adults and kids whenever you desire.
  • The health benefit. Swimming is a great workout. It is low-impact and benefits both cardiovascular and muscular endurance. If swimming laps isn’t for you, there are countless ways to exercise in a swimming pool: aerobics, jogging, and even weightlifting.
  • The resale benefit. This benefit is not clear cut. In some areas of the country with warm climates a pool absolutely enhances the value of a home. In other areas it may do the opposite. The market of buyers is probably more limited, but on the other hand, the buyers who are looking for a pool may be willing to pay more for a home with one already in place.
Disadvantages of Pool Ownership.
The disadvantages are a little more cut and dry than the benefits. Whether these outweigh the advantages is a matter of personal taste, circumstance, and need:
  • The maintenance requirement. Owning a pool is not all fun and games. It takes work, too. Pools must be regularly cleaned and monitored. Pool service professionals are available for regular service, but that comes at a price.
  • The safety risk. All pool owners must consider this factor. Whether you have young children or not, a pool always poses risk to you, your family, and neighbors. Many products are available to address this risk—safety pool covers, safety nets, fences with locks, pool alarms, and more—but there’s no way to eliminate risk entirely.
  • The resale risk. As mentioned above, a swimming pool can aid or hinder the resale value of a home. If the home is in a cooler region it is more likely to decrease the value of the home, or at least make finding a buyer more difficult.
  • The space requirement. This is not a problem if the yard or lot is large. If the pool leaves an inadequate amount of other space, however, the pool could be a hindrance.
  • The cost. The ultimate cost of maintaining your swimming pool varies heavily depending on its size, your region, and your pool equipment. The size of the pool affects the volume of water and chemicals required. This, in turn, affects the size of equipment (e.g. pump, filter, heater) the pool requires, with larger more powerful equipment being more expensive. All of those factors also affect your utility bills, which will also vary depending on your region. An additional cost consideration is insurance; insuring a home with a pool is more expensive than one without.
Types of In Ground Pools.
If you are willing to consider a home with an in ground pool, it’s worthwhile to consider what types of swimming pools you will come across. Each has respective advantages and disadvantages.
  • Fiberglass Pools. These are pre-formed molded pools which are dropped into a backyard as one piece. They require less maintenance than the other types, and do not require resurfacing.
  • Gunite Pools. Gunite pools are the most popular, and are composed of a mixture of concrete and sand sprayed onto reinforcing rods. These are durable, but can present cracking issues for homes in climates that frequently dip below freezing. They do need to be resurfaced periodically, and that is a costly process.
  • Vinyl Pools. These are typically metal or composite walled pools lined with a vinyl liner. These are most popular in climates where temperatures frequently dip below freezing. Consider that the liner will need to be replaced approximately every 7-10 years.
Your Purchase Decision.
Like all elements of a home you are considering buying, you will need to have the pool inspected before going through with a purchase. Find a home inspector with swimming pool expertise, or be ready to pay for a separate pool inspector. You could end up paying for it later if you don’t.
Ultimately, the decision to purchase a home with an in ground pool is a personal one. The key thing for everyone is to look at owning a pool as something for you and your family to enjoy, and not as an investment, and you will guide yourself in the right direction.
It should be noted that while above ground pools offer many similar advantages and disadvantages, they differ from in ground pools in several key areas. Primarily, they are not permanent. Home buyers and sellers can put them up and take them down as they wish, so they rarely affect the sale of a home. There are obviously other differences—e.g. lower safety risks and lower cost—but that goes beyond the scope of this article.