This is one of the questions I get asked a lot. Like most questions dealing with real estate values, the answer is … it depends. Certainly, no one can deny that in the Pleasanton/Dublin/San Ramon area, a sparkling pool on a hot sunny day is hard to beat. But pools can also be a detraction from a home’s value. There are many factors that go into the impact of a pool on a home’s value. Here are some to think about:
1. Lot size. In general, the smaller the lot, the more likely it is that the pool will not add any value, and may in fact detract from the value of the home. With families with small children, or who are planning on starting a family soon, pools are often a negative. Part of this stems from every parent’s concern for the safety of their kids, which is certainly a strong emotion. The other issue with smaller lots for buyers with kids is that often the pool takes up a good portion of the yard, which does not leave much room for grass, a playground, or space for kids to play sports, etc. And since buyers with children make up a sizable portion of the buyers today, if you have a small yard, a home with a pool may sell for less than a comparable home without a pool. Of course, there are always exceptions. I have seen homes with very small lots that have gorgeous tropical pools with palm trees, waterfall, and spa, and in those cases the pool definitely adds to the appeal of the home. But if the deep end of the pool is two steps from the family room slider, a pool will often detract from the value of the home.
2. Age of the pool. A gorgeous “Sunset Magazine” free form pool with a pebble tech surface, waterfall, spa, and desinger pool decking will often add value to a home. In this case, a pool can have strong emotional appeal, and it becomes a lifestyle issue. Bonus points here if the seller can hire young, healthy, tanned models to lounge by the pool when buyers are touring the home. Conversely, a older pool with fading plaster, cracked coping, and the Brady Bunch era sparkling pool decking can be a turn off to most buyers, especially if there is a rusted out diving board or a rickety old slide to compliment it.
3. Maintenance. Some buyers avoid pools because they do not want the hassle or expense of maintaining it. And again, if it is an older pool, the maintenance issue tends to be more pronounced. Equipment leaks, lights burn out, and parts break. And who hasn’t tangled with a seemingly demonic pool sweep that squirts water at you every time you turn around? Even solar panels, which save money on electricity, add to the maintenance of a pool, as there can be leaks in the panels or pipes. And the cost of running the pumps is not insignificant.
4. Placement. Where the pool is placed in the yard can have an impact on the value of the home as well. A large pool placed in the middle of a small lot can again leave little room for other amenities like patios, decks, gardens, and lawns. Conversely, a smaller pool carefully placed to maximize the left over yard area is more likely to be attractive to potential buyers.
5. Design elements. Again, modern designer pools with spas, waterfalls, and other amenities are more likely to add value than stand alone pools with dated finishes. Things like LED lighting and infinity edges can enhance the appeal of the pool, and the attractiveness to buyers. And no, above ground pools are not popular with today’s buyers.
5. Price range. The impact of a pool on a modest tract home is somewhat questionable. But on more expensive high end tract homes and luxury homes and estates, a pool is much more in demand. These homes usually have a large enough yard to facilitate a pool, with plenty of yard left over for other amenities. And buyers for these high end homes are purchasing more than just a home… they are looking for a certain lifestyle, and a swimming pool is normally associated with this. In these cases, not only do pools typically add value, but the lack of a pool can detract from the value of the home. Yes, I know, buyers can always put a pool in, but most buyers do not want to deal with the expense, the hassle, and the chaos of living with heavy construction for 4 or 5 months.
At the end of the day, whether or not a pool adds value depends on what the buyers want. But even buyers who want a pool might balk at a poorly designed or maintained pool, in which case it is likely to detract from the value of the home. And modern, well designed pools can definitely add to the appeal and the sales price of a home.