Real Estate: Will a Pool Help or Hurt Your Property Value?

Q: My wife and I own a large house in Morristown, N.J., on a good-sized lot. I look out at our yard and see a perfect spot for an in-ground pool with a cabana. My wife likes the idea of a pool, too, but is concerned that it’s not a wise investment. But wouldn’t a well-designed pool add value to our property? We have the space for it, and who doesn’t like a pool?

A: You might love the idea of a pool in your backyard, but not everyone else does, particularly in a part of the country where summers are relatively short and the weather unreliable, as this summer has proved to be so far.

“I’ve always viewed a pool as a polarizing asset — people either love it or have no use for it,” said Jonathan J. Miller, the president of Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers and Consultants. “Just because it’s beautiful and you’ve gotten a lot of use out of it, doesn’t mean that it contributes to the value” of the home.

If you lived in the Sunbelt, where pools are commonplace, the absence of one could be the problem. If buyers expect a pool and yours is the only house on the block without one, then the value of your property could take a hit. “In those markets, pools don’t add value, they are embedded into the existing value,” Mr. Miller said. “It’s part of the package of what is expected, just like having electricity and plumbing.”


But you’re in a market where a pool could be a dealbreaker — some buyers will simply see it as a safety liability and a money pit, and not even show up for the open house. Buyers who like it may see it as a nice added bonus, but not necessarily a must-have.

Does this mean you shouldn’t get a pool? No. This is your home — if you plan to live in it for the foreseeable future, and you have the money to spend, install a pool. But go into the project knowing that there’s a decent chance you won’t recoup your sizable investment.

Installing an in-ground pool typically costs between $39,000 and $70,000, according to HomeAdvisor. But that’s just the beginning. Talk to your homeowners insurance broker about how a pool may affect your rates. Consider your municipality’s permitting fees and other requirements, like fencing. Your property taxes may go up, too, so ask the tax assessor about what to expect. Pools can require significant maintenance, so get estimates based on the design. If, after tallying these costs, you still want your pool, then by all means get one and go for a swim.

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