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How to buy a home with a pool

By   |  Posted in First-Time Homebuyers

While the decision of whether or not to buy a home with a pool is a personal choice for homebuyers, there are several factors to consider which will have a serious financial impact over the short and long term.

Beyond deciding whether or not you want to own a pool, there are additional issues to consider, such as the insurance, maintenance and safety costs associated with pool ownership.

"Owning a pool can be a wonderful experience and can add to the beauty and desirability of your home," says Doug Hill, a real estate agent at Coldwell Banker in Phoenix, Ariz. "But, we recommend that buyers consider the pros and cons of pool ownership before they dive in."

Does a pool add value?

Data on what a pool adds to a home's value is scarce, but it mostly varies depending on location. So if and when you sell your house, a pool could help or hurt your cause depending on your locality.

"A pool adds aesthetic value as well as a gathering place for entertainment and relaxation," says Summer Greene, regional manager with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Florida 1st in Fort Lauderdale. "Pools in South Florida are more of a commodity with the expectation a home will have a pool. In fact, homes without pools take longer to sell and hurt overall market value."

"You must look at a number of variables," says Joseph Dionne, a real estate agent at RE/MAX Town and Country Realty in Winter Springs, Fla., "from the pool being screened or enclosed, being heated, having water features, as well as general condition of the pool. A general guide, would be $8,000 to $10,000 for a home valued at $125,000; $15,000 for a home valued at $250,000, and approximately $20,000 for a home valued at $500,000." Dionne recommends you check with a local appraiser for more exact figures.

Back in 2003, the National Association of Realtors said an in-ground swimming pool added about 8 percent to the value of your house while an above-ground pool added none.

Costs

"The biggest drawback is the necessary weekly maintenance, but, if you look hard enough, there are an abundance of pool companies that service pools for about $50 to $75 a month," says Greene.

Those monthly costs are about the same in Arizona, says Hill.

In addition, take into account hidden costs, like fencing, pool suction devices, self-closing doors, safety alarms and additional homeowners insurance. Combined, all add thousands of dollars to your home purchase.

Get an inspection from the right source

Just as a home inspector conducts thorough due diligence on your home, a pool expert should do their own due diligence before you sign on the dotted line.

"Don't use a general home inspector for a pool inspection, says Sabine Schoenberg, founder of SabinesHome.com, a luxury real estate development firm in New York City. "Instead, get a pool company to inspect the pool -- you want an expert."

Talk to the pool's servicer

Homebuyers shouldn't hesitate to ask the seller for the name of the company that serviced the pool while they lived in the home. The service company knows the pool best and can analyze the pool's quality and potential upkeep costs.

"Call them up," says Schoenberg. "Generally speaking, the pool service company will be happy to speak with you since it is their chance to continue the account." Reviewing the pool's service records can give you an idea of what to expect in terms of the pool's overall condition and what service and maintenance costs you'll encounter each year, Schoenberg adds.

Final tips

Hill says buying a home with a pool should not negatively impact your mortgage qualification. If anything, he says, it might help you sell faster.

"Homes with a pool usually appeal to more homebuyers than homes without a pool," he says. "This can mean a faster sale later and may add some value to the final sale."

It's also a good idea to check your local municipality's rules on home pool use (known as a Certificate of Occupancy). "Municipalities are constantly changing pool regulations and if such a C/O is missing you likely have to meet today's much more stringent regulations," says Schoenberg.

Having a pool can be great fun and add value to your home. Just don't dive in head first before knowing what it all costs.

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