Does a Pool Make a Home a Better Investment?

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By Tracy Royce

I know I'm not the only one with the looming feeling investors might face this time of year: "Should I buy a house that has a pool?" In places like Arizona, we might look at things a little differently (any relief from the scorching desert is a plus!). If you're in the Midwest, having a pool might mean different costs and value. But, let's look at the pros and cons of purchasing a rental or flip that has a pool.

How Bad Is It?

I've seen my share of distressed properties, and I guess after awhile, I feel like a Ghostbuster walking through freshly-minted foreclosures. ("I ain't afraid of no ghosts!") This comes with the exception of pools, though. A dark green pool may be hiding years of neglect, bad siding, algae, and who knows what else.

It can be difficult to estimate what pool repairs may be needed, and if you have, say, 20 minutes to do a full inspection of the house, the "ifs" of a range of $50 to $5,000 can swing your margins in the red quickly. If the home is a short sale, the pool may be sitting for months longer and cost more than you initially estimated, as well. If you have longer to get an inspection, and a pool person is able to give you an estimate on getting the pool back in working condition, then the initial costs may be worth the investment. However, there are further things to consider.

1. Who will be responsible for maintaining the pool?
2. Do your state laws require fencing, depending on who's purchasing/renting the house from you? If so, who's responsible for paying for that?
3. If you allow the renters (if you rent the property out) to take care of the pool, how are you assured they are actually checking and keeping the PH levels balanced and maintaining the cleaning?
4. Are you willing to accept the maintenance down the road for redoing decking/siding? Lost or stolen equipment?
5. What extra liability might you face if, heaven forbid, a serious or fatal accident should happen?

Liquid Gold?

Much of this might be negated if you're flipping the property. Similar to a fireplace in a warm-weather state building in more value (go figure!), a pool may add extra attraction to your property as well. It's advisable not to ever add the pool yourself, since dollar-for-dollar you will never recoup even your costs.

However, if there are matching houses and one has a pool, the one with the extra amenity may help you procure a buyer that much faster, therefore decreasing your holding time and/or increasing your sales price. I know many investors out there wouldn't touch a pool with a 6-foot pole (or a skimmer, I suppose!), but others find it to be a draw as a rental or a flip.

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Smart Home 2013 Pool Tour
Smart Home 2013 Pool Tour