Can Installing A Pool Devalue Your Home?

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2007-07-2128

Real estate agents claim that the valuation of a property can be boosted if it contains any one of these amenities, also known as extras or optional niceties for your home:

  • Swimming Pool
  • View
  • Landscaped Grounds
  • Sunroom
  • Porch, fancy driveway, patio
  • Fireplace (in California, this is an extra, not a necessity)

and so on.

That’s fine, but everybody has their preferences and beyond the standard set of rooms and the desire for a decent amount of space, our taste in the extras can vary widely. In my case, unless I was living in a very hot climate (e.g. in a desert area or the middle of the tropics), I’d be a home buyer who’d pass on a listed house that had something on their premises that can be a source of great fun that comes with a price. What I mean to say is that I’d skip on a house with a swimming pool on it.

If you ask me, these are the types of pools I prefer, because they are innocuous, flexible… and so affordable!

I’d prefer the pool that someone else owns.

Community Center Swimming Pool

Or the inflatable kind that you could put away after use.

Inflatable Pool

Or how about having the illusion of one instead.

Sidewalk Art Swimming Pool

Okay that was lame.

Not that I am totally against swimming pools. It’s just that as a homeowner, I look upon them more as liabilities rather than as assets, and a drain on the budget.

And here’s why I say that. These are just my opinions of course.

7 Disadvantages Of Having A Swimming Pool At Home

#1 They use up limited outdoor space.
How many times have I attended home parties held in someone’s yard where a large-sized pool took over most of the real estate? Too often. And not all of us are fond of swimming either. I’m a decent swimmer but haven’t been up to donning a swimsuit of late. When you have young kids like we do, I’d prefer a lawn where we can run around freely or hold children’s parties with ease. Not only that, as our residential communities grow denser, there is less property to actually live in. Would you sacrifice your limited usable space for a pool? While many in my family will say “yes”, I personally wouldn’t.

#2 They cost a lot of effort and money to maintain.
If you’re interested in installing a pool, it could run you around $40,000. If you already have one in place, you’ll need to maintain it either by hiring a pool guy or doing it yourself. If you don’t do a good job, you’ll have a very murky, icky pool that breeds unwanted critters like mosquitoes and tadpoles. In the Bay Area, hiring someone else to do the work costs $400 – $500 a month on average — that’s $6,000 a year you could’ve invested towards your kids’ tuition instead!

#3 They are an *almost* permanent fixture on your property.
It takes a LOT to change your landscape in case you ever desire to fill in an existing pool. As I’ve mentioned, a pool’s upkeep is expensive, requiring fuel, energy, chemicals, cleaners, time and effort to do, and those costs can only go higher with time. It’s hard to put a price on your house being the popular magnet for kids in the neighborhood, but eventually these kids move out and you’ll have to share your empty nest with a potentially empty, dry hole in your yard. What next? You’ll either sell the home, fill in that pool, keep maintaining it at a cost or live with the makeshift pond it turns into.

#4 They are a liability.
It can happen to anyone. Even fenced pools can be outmanned by a clever toddler, much to their misfortune. I’d prefer not to own a liability. Of course, you could always install a pool cover AND put up a fence, but unless you have a lot of yard to work with, having a big tarp for a yard doesn’t exactly sound appealing.

#5 If you have little kids you have to be extra careful.
I know lots of people who began giving their kids swimming lessons at an early age, to heck with ear infections and all that. The kids have become splendid swimmers by the age of 10. Still, I believe this is an exception. If you have talented swimmers in your family, owning a pool may have some benefits but make sure it’s worth the expense to maintain.

#6 They can lower your property value.
Aha, this can be a controversial point. I just said earlier how amenities — including pools — have helped raise the value of homes. But in reality, it all depends on the property market. I’ve read some articles stating that people are beginning to dislike the idea of owning a pool, for the same precise reasons that I do. When there’s enough of us who think the same way, VOILA! Prices of such homes may decrease accordingly. Note however, that in certain parts of the nation, pools are a must. Homes in desert states often have pools as a necessity, but this wouldn’t be the situation in colder regions. So it could be locale driven. Here’s an interesting fact from my local paper’s realty pages:

A realtor with Alain Pinel Realtors advises his home-buying clients to look for properties with pools because they offer such a big discount. “If you’re selling your house, consider filling in your pool. It costs between $10,000 to $15,000, but doing so would add a minimum of $100,000 in value to your home (upon sale). That is because 90% of all buyers strongly do not want a pool.”

With all things equal, home shoppers will eliminate that house with a pool from their shortened buy list. The interesting note here is that the opposite is true with high-end mansions. The richer folk tend to *want* big pools since they don’t have the space limitation that everyone else has. But that’s a special market altogether.

#7 They can be pretty redundant – other places can be alternatives to the pool!
Instead of owning the pool yourself, you could always find alternatives to having one sitting permanently on your lot, which is a lot more practical. How about visiting a friend or relative who already owns one? Community pools are accessible in many places such as apartment complexes, clubs, health centers or gym settings. If I really need to get soaked on a regular basis, I’d get a temporary membership to an athletic club or the YMCA. On a personal note, we just stick to our trusty inflatables when the hot summer months hit — those cheap backyard water toys do the job for my kids and their buddies!

It’s All Subjective, Of Course

Granted, I know just as many people who have or desire a swimming pool on their premises as those who don’t. And so there will always be someone who will turn green with envy if they realize you’ve got your very own built in pool. However, the point here is that when a house is bought or sold, it would depend on how marketable it is and on its general mass appeal. It’s value will depend on just how wide a range of buyers it will attract.

As for me, I prefer to save money by sidestepping a house with a pool, like the time when we put an offer on a house that had a huge fenced water pit that took over the entire yard. Fortunately enough, we failed to snag the house. I look upon that day as fortuitous. Now with all that money I save from NOT having a pool, I think I’ll just apply it to some other cool home feature. Like more plants for the yard.

Copyright © 2007 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Lani July 21, 2007 at 8:52 am

This week, the big names in Real Estate blogging debated that installing a pool could actually lower your home’s value.

Each independent Realtor should know if the additions you mentioned with increase the value- often they will not, especially if it doesn’t match your neighbors.

guinness416 July 21, 2007 at 3:44 pm

I’ve actually NEVER seen an article that claimed a pool will add value to your home – always the contrary – but perhaps that’s because I’m in Toronto. I take all those claims with a very large pinch of salt anyway, and hope most other homeowners do too.

Silicon Valley Blogger July 21, 2007 at 3:55 pm

Guinness, I must’ve been under the wrong impression that pools were considered “a good thing” for home valuations. I could’ve sworn that I had a realtor tell me this a while ago. Again, what is notable here is that a pool may actually add value if your house is a mansion and you have amenities everywhere like gazebos, hot tubs, pools, jacuzzis, saunas and tennis courts on your property. I can’t imagine a luxury home that doesn’t sport a pool.

In other words, at a general level, pools probably lower prices for the general public (mass market for homes). For certain locations (those with very hot climates) and for the luxury market, I’m guessing pools add to home value.

Again, my own .02 from someone who isn’t in the RE industry.

Chief Family Officer July 21, 2007 at 8:38 pm

Here in Los Angeles, a pool doesn’t add value, but only because so many homes have one so there’s nothing about a pool that makes the house special. But not having a pool doesn’t lower the value of a house because there are enough people who don’t care whether a house has a pool. I hope that makes sense.

Super Saver July 22, 2007 at 5:28 am


Love the illusion art. I had not seen the one with the pool.

I agree with you. For me, a pool is similar to a boat. “What’s better than owning a boat? A good friend that owns a boat :-)”

Silicon Valley Blogger July 22, 2007 at 8:57 am

Hehe, sometimes the illusion of something is actually better than the real thing! πŸ˜‰

Another interesting story for you: my in-laws have a house built on what is practically a cliff. In the 1990’s, they were bitten by the remodeling bug and redid their house altogether. They fancied a pool on their *very* limited landscape given the steepness of their property slope. I thought it was downright impossible to pull something like this off. Yet they built an absolutely lovely natural rock garden type pool for those occasional California heat waves.

They do their own pool maintenance (though I don’t know how they do it since they are *extremely* frugal), and they use the pool maybe twice a month during the summer months. Do I question the pool’s practicality? Objectively speaking, yes. But in reality, that pool is great because now they have grandkids who can enjoy it and that’s where we go for a dip.

If I put on my business hat, I’d question its resale value. But as a member of the family, I don’t see it that way at all — I can only appreciate the nice memories my kids are having when they visit their grandparents (and the fact I don’t have to maintain that pool myself)!

Lisa July 22, 2007 at 8:53 pm

Interesting article. I always thought most people liked pools- I think they’re an eyesore… especially those of the above ground variety that I’ve seen at many houses. Yikes.

Yan July 24, 2007 at 3:54 pm

A pool in my house? Never. Fitness club membership works perfect for us.

On the other hand my kids did enjoy a pool at my wife’s parents home when we visited Ukraine. It was an inflated kind though. πŸ˜‰

Where did you get that image of illusion? I wonder how they did it…

Michelle July 24, 2007 at 4:17 pm

I LOVE my pool at my house! It’s the best free entertainment and peace-inducing activity around! Plus no travel costs or hassle – just walk outside.

Of course, my landlord pays for the upkeep, and I just get to enjoy it. I live in LA and so can enjoy it year-round – I swim during the warmer months, and I float around on my raft in the sunshine all year.

If you rent out your house, or rooms in your house, like my landlord does, a pool is DEFINITELY an asset for attracting renters. But, you won’t be able to charge more for it since, like Chief Family Officer says, there are just so many homes with pools available here.

4MySales July 25, 2007 at 8:49 pm

Most people would love to have a pool, but the practicality and expense usually detract rather than add to the value and the available buyers. For those that want a pool, it is a great value-add. For those who don’t, it is a deal killer.


Silicon Valley Blogger July 26, 2007 at 1:10 am

Well I think pools suit certain demographics better than others. I think the least suitable demographic for genuine built-in pools are families with very young kids. Pretty much anyone else can probably appreciate pools much more than those of us with curious toddlers who love roaming around the yard, leaving no stones unturned. Keep a laser eye on your kids when there’s water around!

Mario Pinedo, CCIM August 1, 2007 at 10:02 pm

Like mansions, pools are required items for apartment complex developers to install. I listed to a couple head honchos from Avalon Bay apartment group speak last year. They bristled at the cost and the wasted land that the pools they put in eat up. What further frustrated them was the fact that these pools never get used. But a prospective tenant touring one of their properties, will not rent a place if it doesnt have a sparkling pool. BTW, if anyone has a nice pool that they don’t want, I have a backyard perfect for it.

Tobias August 31, 2007 at 1:40 pm

yup… home pools are a quite temporary & expensive amusement– much like owning pleasure boats.

The novelty and enjoyment quickly vanish within 1-2 years. But at least you can sell a boat (..or store it out of sight).

One residential pool-builder estimates that standard in-ground pools ultimately cost the homeowner $100-per-swim… over the life-cycle cost of pool construction & maintenance.

Go to a hotel with a nice pool for the weekend when you get the infrequent urge for a swim — it will be much cheaper overall.

Denver Native September 11, 2007 at 2:25 pm

This is one real estate agent that would never suggest adding a pool to increase value in the Denver market. Why? Because pools here add no value at all.

Many folks with kids will shun a home with pool. They are afraid of the “attractive nuisance” implications for themselves and liabilities for others’ kids. So, even though some will find the pool to be attactive, they won’t have to pay a single dime higher to get the same home with a pool.

Linda Hutchinson September 26, 2007 at 6:07 pm

As a real estate agent, I never encourage a buyer, who WANTS a pool home, to purchase a home which requires them to build a pool. There is no return on this addition. In Florida, many families want a pool and they do add value. But they do not add enough value to merit building one from scratch. The owner will never see a return on the investment when the home is sold. However, landscaping almost always brings a greater return in value. You can’t beat a tree and you don’t have to spend a ton of money to maintain it!

Kevin - Sauna Talk Editor August 19, 2008 at 8:41 pm

Adding a pool, spa or sauna to your home can significantly enhance its value. Ask any appraiser or real estate agent and they’ll say that, of the improvements you can do to give you the best return on the dollar, making an outdoor space more usable ranks in the top three. Resell-wise, a well-designed outdoor sauna or spa-type pool is never a money pit but an attractive addition that fetches a return on your investment.

Henry Identity August 19, 2008 at 10:29 pm

Pools…a lot of chemicals have to go into water if you want it fresh…if not you have to fill up with new water which is waste of water…overconsumption

Life is like an onion: You peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep.

Life without love is like a tree without blossom and fruit.

Life is what happens to you while you’re working for your future.

Revive Energy Mint, CEO September 13, 2008 at 8:34 pm

I have to agree with Denver Native, I live in Colorado and added a pool to my property. When I went to resell it caused me more of a headache then anything. People were turned off by the added expensive of the pool, I got killed on my home inspection with all kinds of pool related problems. I agree it depends on the demographics, but in places like Colorado, pools dont add value to your home, they cause problems!

toledo painting old timer December 16, 2008 at 1:14 pm

For the general level, pools probably lower prices for the general public (mass market for homes). For certain locations (those with very hot climates) and for the luxury market, I’m guessing pools add to home value.

Again, my own .02. I’m just a painter at heart.

James February 24, 2009 at 4:02 am

I like that street art πŸ™‚ A pool can be a big selling point or a big turn off. Adding a pool will appeal to some buyers and put off others at the end of the day…

Cotswold June 29, 2009 at 6:39 am

Adding a pool or a hot tub can add value to a house, but like James said, it will appeal to some buyers and put others off.

Marikxon Manurung January 26, 2010 at 4:39 pm

It is always a good decision when you install a hot tub spa in your house. But pool? I don’t think so…I think it’s too large. Hot tubs not only for your relaxation and health but it can also increase the value of your house. I think it’s a good article you have here. Thanks for sharing it.

Kevin Goodacre September 20, 2010 at 12:37 am

This was an excellent read. Installing a pool is not easy but once done it is such a pleasure to use in the summer months. Just don’t forget to take swimming pool maintenance into account.

Rebecca October 14, 2010 at 6:51 pm

Hmm this is an interesting issue. In terms of property valuation it seems obvious that having a pool should make your property worth more, but there are a lot of other issues to think about as well (cost of upkeep etc). And where I’m from (Australia, where we are in a drought and have quite stringent water restrictions in place) pools are almost looked down upon. So I guess it does depend a lot on where you live and if you are willing and able to maintain it.

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