Your guide to buying a house with a pool

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The perks of owning a pool are obvious: lounging poolside, cooling off with a dip on a hot summer day, and parties with all your friends. But as pretty as that picture is, the realities of owning a house with a swimming pool can be ugly — so much so that some may advise house hunters to never buy a house with a pool.

The truth is that being a pool owner isn’t right for everyone, but it may be right for you. Our guide breaks down everything you need to know about buying a house with a pool to make sure your purchase goes swimmingly.

Buying a house with a pool

Every pool is a little different. Not only their shapes and sizes, but even the variety. Here are some of the types of pools your dream home might have:

  • Inground pool: This is the traditional type of pool — a permanent addition that is dug into the ground. Inground pools can be expensive to install and maintain, so you’ll have to decide just how much you’re willing to pay for pool life.
  • Indoor pool: Indoor pools are shielded from the outdoors by an enclosure. This helps keep the pool (and pool-goers) safe from the elements while cutting down on maintenance costs and allowing the pool to be used year-round.
  • Above ground pool: These affordable alternatives to inground pools aren’t dug-in and take only a few days to install. While they offer a great place to cool off like any pool, they generally add no value to a home.
  • Filled in pool: When homeowners decide they no longer want a pool, they might choose to fill it in. If you’re buying a house with a filled-in pool, ask the owners for detailed information on how they did it. Ensure that it was completed by a professional to avoid any long-term complications.

Should I buy a house with a pool?

If you’re thinking of putting in an offer on a house with a swimming pool, it’s important that you understand your backyard oasis comes with some drawbacks. These include safety risks, high cost of repairs, and required regular maintenance.

Review the steps below to ensure you don’t end up wishing you never bought a house with a pool.

  1. Get the details: Ask the previous owners for the paperwork on the pool manufacturer, installation, any repairs, updates, or replacements. Do a little research to ensure that a high-quality professional has completed any work on the pool.
  2. Get a pool inspection: Ask for a pool inspection as a part of the regular home inspection. You’ll have to pay an additional fee, but getting the peace of mind that your pool is in good working order is priceless.
  3. Review pool safety laws. Water safety laws differ from state to state and even city to city. Review your area’s local laws and ordinances to confirm that your pool is up to code and safe. This will not only help keep you safe around the pool but also help you avoid having to pay to correct costly violations.
  4. Ask about the operating costs. Running a pool is expensive. Ask the previous owners for their monthly or annual pool budget to factor into your calculations.
  5. Understand the added responsibilities. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of buying a house with a pool. Ensure that you understand the long-term commitment involved.

Owning a house with a pool

While you may be ready to become a homeowner, you might need to consider if you’re prepared to be a pool owner, too — especially if you’re looking for a home in a neighborhood with lots of swimming pools. There are many factors to weigh, including the additional burdens to your insurance policies, property taxes, and home maintenance and safety.

Homeowners insurance

Your premium will go up when you buy a house with a pool, but not without reason. Your policy will cover basic damage to your pool and may even help pay for injuries from a pool-related accident. It’s worth considering getting additional liability coverage to help pay for any legal or medical expenses that result from an accident.

Find out when you need to buy homeowners insurance during the homebuying process.

Property taxes

In most localities, when you add value to your home — with a renovation or addition — assessors will recompute your property value and tax you at a higher rate. This is true for pool additions, too. If an assessor determines the swimming pool adds value to a home, you’ll pay higher property taxes when you buy a house with a pool.

Pool maintenance

That image of lounging poolside with your friends doesn’t tell the whole story of owning a pool. But if you pictured all of the work that goes into the upkeep of your personal oasis, you might never buy a house with a pool.

You’ll have to put in some elbow grease to keep your water crystal clear. This includes regular testing of water chemistry, applying chemicals, emptying skimmers, maintaining vacuums, skimming and brushing, and much more. 

Some house hunters aren’t cut out for that kind of work, and that’s okay. Others might not understand that there’s a financial cost, as well as a personal price to pay too. Check out the table below to make sure your pool maintenance fees don’t end up feeling like a hidden cost of buying your home.

Average costs of pool maintenance

Steps Description Timeline
Cleaning This includes basic water testing and chemicals but does not factor in major repairs of pool linings or filtration systems. $100 - $150 monthly, if you do it yourself
$150 - $200 monthly, to hire a service
Opening & closing You may need to close your pool for the winter if you live in a cold climate. A professional can help you winterize and reopen your pool for the season. $300 - $600 annually
Utility bills Your pool pump and filtration systems need electricity to run, and your pool needs regular topping off to compensate for evaporation. This will come at a cost to your monthly utility bills. $300 - $400 annually
Total $1,200 - $1,800
annually

There is a tax deduction that may help you pay for your pool if you need it to treat a medical issue — for example, to manage a chronic pain condition or for physical therapy. If you installed your pool specifically to treat your condition, talk to your accountant about the possibility of writing off your pool fees. But keep in mind that it is exceedingly uncommon to qualify for this tax deduction.

Pool safety

Safety is paramount when owning a pool, especially if children live at or frequent your home. According to the Center for Disease Control, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children ages one to four and the second leading cause of death for children ages one to 14.

To protect yourself and any children, ensure that your pool is up to safety standards. While local regulations may vary, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends, at minimum, that you have the following safety measures in place:

  • A fence enclosure around your pool that is at least four feet tall and not climbable
  • Self-closing and self-latching gates
  • A pool alarm if your house opens out to your pool
  • A pool cover
  • Anti-entrapment safety drain covers
  • Life-saving equipment — like life rings or a reaching pole — easily accessible around your pool

Is a pool a good investment?

Maybe you’d never buy a house with a pool, but you’re considering installing one yourself. Increasing the value of their home is top of mind for many homeowners, and you’ll probably want to factor in the return on investment for this major addition.

The average cost to install a swimming pool is roughly $30,500, but it will depend on a variety of factors like design considerations and special features. For such a big investment, a pool may only increase your home’s value by 7%. Pools tend to add more value to houses in high-end neighborhoods and warmer climates.

Find out how much your home is worth. Our valuations are 30% more accurate than others.

While this comes at a price for the homeowners who took the plunge to install a pool, it’s good news for those buying a house with one already installed: With such low ROI, it’s a better deal to buy a house with a pool than to install one yourself.

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