How Much Value Does a Pool Really Add to Your Home?
In certain temperate climates, houses with pools are pretty idyllic. When summer lasts five or six months and temperatures are easily 100 degrees or higher on the hottest days, relaxing in or around a pool in your own backyard is a dream come true. If your home doesn't already have an in-ground pool, though, adding one is no small (or cheap) project.
Installing an in-ground pool—the kind of permanent structure you can enjoy for years to come—can take months and cost tens of thousands of dollars. According to HomeAdvisor, the average in-ground pool cost is almost $50,000, and larger pools or pools with special features can have even higher price tags.
As with any costly home upgrade, you'll want to make sure adding a pool will pay you back in more than just summer memories. Just as getting the timing right for the best time to sell a house and picking the right house paint colors can increase your home's value, adding a pool can bring a lot of added value to your home. But that might not always be the case.
Here are some things to consider about how much value a pool really adds to your home and whether the cost is worth it.
A pool can increase the value of your home, but location matters.
A 2019 analysis from real estate brokerage Redfin calculates exactly how much value a pool can add. The analysis calculates the value of a private pool as a premium to a home's per-square-foot sale price in metro areas where houses with pools for sale are relatively abundant. In certain regions, having a pool is a major perk, and home-buyers are willing to pay extra for it: A pool can add $95,000 to a median-priced home's value in Los Angeles, Calif., for example, and almost $30,000 to a home's value in Tampa, Fla.
In other regions, though, having a pool (and all the maintenance costs that come with it) can actually detract from a home's value. Redfin's analysis found that homes with pools in Boston, Mass., were worth approximately $15,000 less than comparable homes without pools. (You can probably blame Boston's long, cold winters for that.)
Redfin's analysis was limited to 19 metro areas—regions had to have at least 5,000 homes sold in 2018 where at least two of sold homes had pools to be included—but the variety in pool values proves that the true value of an inground pool really depends on where you live. Added value from a pool in areas included in the analysis ranged from $11,000 in Phoenix, Ariz., to $95,000 in L.A.
In markets where there are a lot of families with young children, a pool might not be a huge selling point because of concerns over safety and the added financial burden of maintaining a pool, says real estate expert Alison Bernstein. "This may make a home in one of these towns less desirable, ultimately taking down the property value. In other markets, however, say Arizona, Florida, or the Hamptons where pool use is a part of daily life, to not have a pool would drastically decrease the value of a home," says Bernstein.
The cost of maintaining a pool can outweigh the value.
As great as an inground pool might be, it takes a lot of time and money to maintain. Think heating, cleaning, and any repairs that may come up. Annual costs of pool maintenance are between $1,200 and $1,800, says Arnold Long, general ops manager at Mr. Blue Plumbing. Opening and closing your pool in the summer and winter comes with additional costs, too—around $150 to $300, depending on how clean your pool is. So is the cost of a pool (maintenance included) worth the value it adds?
"No, and it's not even close," says Long. "In the best-case scenario, in which you got a deal on pool installation and don't own the property for too long, you'll lose $23,000 on your investment. But this is if everything goes right, you get lucky, and the pool doesn't require any repairs."
The cost of installing an inground pool and maintaining it does vary based on the type of pool and other factors, but it's still an expensive addition to your home (though it's a fun one). It's important to consider all the costs and whether it would be a worthwhile investment for you.
"A pool should only be added to a home if the homeowner plans on using it for years. Otherwise, a pool should be considered a bad investment," says realtor Jason Gelios.
Bottom line: Of all the home updates that might increase home value, an in-ground pool probably isn't at the top of the list—and it certainly isn't the sort of thing you'd add to a last-minute home-selling checklist. Gelios adds that while a pool can be attractive, it doesn't increase the value by a huge amount—often "no more than 8% on the high end," he explains.
However, if you live in an area where having a pool in the backyard is par for the course, it may be a major boost to your home's value when it does come time to sell. It's your gamble.