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By Leslie Cook
May 22, 2021
Dog sitting on diving board of backyard pool
Getty Images

Homes with swimming pools are selling at a premium as the heat of summer approaches.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, homes with in-ground pools were selling for an estimated $16,137 more than homes without a pool. Now, as homeowners seek safe outdoor relief from more than a year of social distancing, these homes are selling for about $27,199 more than their pool-less counterparts — an increase of 69%, according to HomeLight’s Top Agent Insights Survey for Spring 2021.

If you happen to live in an area of the country where higher temperatures are the norm, sellers may be able to get a bigger windfall. In Northern California, homes are sometimes selling for $50,000 more than comparable houses without pools, says Julia Beals, a realtor with Remax Gold in the town of Rocklin.

Pools have been trending since last year when people were confined to their homes for entertainment, says Caroline Feeney, managing editor for HomeLight and author of the report. As the time spent at home skyrocketed and places like public swimming pools and country clubs were closed, having a pool became a source of entertainment as well as exercise.

“I had grown adults in my community that were buying inflatable kiddie pools from Amazon and using those in their backyard to sit around and try to have some semblance of paradise during this crazy, difficult time,” says Feeney.

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Will adding a pool add value to your home?

As the summer approaches, 68% of realtors surveyed by HomeLight expect to see a surge in pool additions to homes. Demand is so high that some pool contractors are booked through to 2022, according to the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance.

However, if you’re thinking of installing a pool in your home with the idea that you’ll be able to recover your full investment when you sell, don’t do it. A typical in-ground pool installation can cost between $40,000 and $50,000, according to HomeLight. A high-end or luxury pool area can cost up to $150,000. Although you’ll get some value back, you won’t recover your investment.

Beals estimates that appraisers only add $15,000 to $20,000 to the value of a home with an inground pool. For buyers, this means, bidding up a home because of the pool may lead to a costly appraisal gap.

“It really should be about personal enjoyment still and then the resale value is more of a bonus,” says Feeney.

Still, if you already have a pool making sure it looks and functions its best can help your house stand out for buyers. Here’s how.

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Keep up with regular pool maintenance

Naturally, when a potential buyer walks into a backyard to see your swimming pool, they want to see clear water and a well-maintained area. It signals they won’t have to make an immediate investment to make the area usable.

“If they see this kind of immediate area where they can relax, they can envision themselves spending time there enjoying it,” says Feeney. “That’s going to make your house more marketable.”

Make sure the pool has been cleaned of both top and bottom debris and the water chemistry is balanced. If you have a regular maintenance service for your pool, keep it going until closing.

If you haven’t had the pool cleaned professionally for a few months, have someone come in and do the required service. Costs can range from $150 to $600, according to HomeLight.

Check for cracks in the pool’s cement, consider having repairs done prior to showing the home. Costs can vary by region but can start at $100 for minor cracks to over $1,000 for something more serious.

Consider pool safety

In many places, safety measures are required by law to prevent children (and pets) from accidentally getting into the pool unsupervised. These can include fencing on all sides of the pool with self-closing gates, alarms on doors and windows leading to the pool area, and alarms that indicate if someone has touched the water.

Having safety features already in place signals that the pool is ready to be used as soon as the new owner moves in and may put nervous parents at ease.

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Make sure the pool deck is in good shape

The area surrounding the pool is just as important as the pool itself. Your pool deck can be made of many different materials, including wood, concrete, pavers and stone. Whatever the material, you want to make sure it looks clean and in good condition.

Check for sagging, unevenness, gaps or other defects. These could be signs of small problems that are easy to fix, but could also be an indication of a major problem such as soil movement under the deck or faulty construction, which would require a full deck replacement.

Stage your yard

Staging your pool area can be just as important as staging your home. As with any other part of the home, the area around the pool should be clear of personal items like pool toys or maintenance equipment that could be cluttering the area.

Consider adding some light landscaping, such as potted plants or other decorative touches to add color. Keep the lawn mowed and free of debris, and trim any hedges or trees that may be in the yard area. You can also add pool furniture like a chaise lounge and accents tables to complete the pool’s look.

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