By Sam Wasson
Updated Oct 11, 2022
In many parts of the world, pool ownership is a sign of luxury and high-end real estate, the U.S. included. Because of this, many homeowners assume that a pool is a safe investment. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and the investment value of a pool is a surprisingly tricky subject. While a pool and spa can add significant resale value to your home, factors like regionality, pool type, and even your specific neighborhood can drastically affect your pool’s value.
This article aims to help clarify some of this confusion by outlining the costs of owning a pool, how much a pool stands to increase your home’s resale value, and what factors can affect your pool’s worth.
Pools are expensive installations. They carry a significant upfront cost and add to annual expenses. The exact cost of a pool depends on several factors: the pool’s type, material, filtration system, and any add-ons.
You can choose between two types of pools, in-ground or aboveground. A standard aboveground pool can cost you between $1,000 and $8,000. The average national cost for these sits around $1,500 to $2,600, including all additional costs associated with the installation of the pool, like pumps and filters. This figure does not, however, include the cost of features like decks, which can cost you up to $4,500 to $8,000.
Other features, such as diving boards, pool pumps, or saltwater conversion kits, can further increase the price. Saltwater conversion kits can turn your standard aboveground pool into a saltwater pool. A saltwater system can save money long-term, as pool salt costs much cheaper than chlorine. In the short term, you can expect to pay an additional $450 to $1,000 for a conversion kit.
For in-ground pools, you’re looking at $39,000 to $79,000, with the national average at around $50,000. In-ground pools come in many different shapes and styles, but their materials are the largest cost determiner:
Like aboveground pools, you can use a saltwater filtration system for in-ground pools. These systems use an electrolytic chlorine generator (ECG) to turn salt water into chlorine, keeping the water clean and devoid of bacteria. An ECG system has a high upfront cost, around $1,500 to $2,500, depending on the size of your pool, but it can save you more in the long run. On average, saltwater pools will save you up to 40% on your chemical pool maintenance costs per year.
To account for the long-term expenses of a pool, expect an increase in utility, upkeep, and insurance costs.
Overall, it will cost you an average additional $750 to over $1,000 yearly to maintain a pool. On top of this, you have additional expenses like filters, pH test kits, pool covers, opening and closing costs, and minor maintenance that equals up to $400.
Under optimal conditions, a pool can increase the resale value of your home, but, unfortunately, according to real estate agents, not by much. On average, a pool adds only about 7% to your home’s total resale value, with a high-end in-ground pool adding up to 8%. Currently, the cost of homes in the United States averages between $375,000 to over $500,000, with the median cost currently at $428,700, which means a pool will, on average, net you about $32,000.
Certain factors make your backyard pool a better return on investment. For example, pools are less common and sought after in regions with long and heavy winters. Therefore, having a pool in Maine will not add as much value to your home and may even result in your sale taking longer to close. Below are the major factors affecting your pool’s resale value on your home.
As mentioned above, your region (this includes your state and your neighborhood) is the primary determinant of the value of your pool. Pools are much more common in warmer climates, especially in Midwest states like Arizona and Nevada. Some Southern states like Florida also sport the most pools per capita. In these locations, pools are a valuable commodity year-round. Furthermore, if you live in a high-end neighborhood where pools are common or expected, not having a pool can negatively impact your chances of making a sale.
As a pool owner, keeping your backyard oasis neat, clean, and functional is paramount in getting the maximum value out of your investment. A poorly maintained pool represents future problems for potential home buyers; this can affect your home’s value and ability to close a sale. If you’re going to sell your home, ensure that all parts of the pool are functioning properly and that it’s clean and well maintained.
Age affects resale value more for shorter-lived pools, such as aboveground and vinyl models. If your pool is nearing the end of its lifetime, replacements or repairs may be just around the corner, driving down its value.
Your type of pool, accessories, and presentation can impact its resale value. Lower-end pools, like aboveground or in-ground vinyl pools, will only increase your home’s resale value by around 5%. Given the right conditions, higher-end pools, like concrete or fiberglass, can reach up to 8%.
You can expect to pay around $2,000 for an aboveground pool or around $45,000 to $50,000 for an in-ground pool. This cost does not include additional structures or features like decks, bars, lights, or sheds. In ideal conditions, you can expect a total increase to your home’s resale value equaling about 7%, which on average equates to just over $32,000.
Unfortunately, in-ground pools are by no means a good investment. At best, you can recoup some of your losses during your sale if all goes right. Aboveground may result in a net positive, but this only happens if conditions are perfect and your pool is in excellent condition.
Ultimately, you should only buy a pool if you value having one. Whether working out, cooling off, or lounging by the poolside, the primary reason for owning a pool should be your enjoyment. If you decide to buy a pool, do so because it will add value to your life, not your home. You can undertake many other, more cost-effective home improvement projects or renovations to increase your home’s resale value.
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