Come the Aussie summer, there’s really nothing better than jumping into a pool. It’s cooling, it’s relaxing and if you’ve got kids, it can be a great way to keep them busy over the holidays.
Aside from its fun factor, does a pool add value to a home when it comes time to sell? Or is it the opposite: a hindrance that makes a home less attractive to prospective buyers?
It turns out the answer isn’t so clear-cut. In some circumstances, a pool can be a big drawcard, but in others, a major drawback.
How much value do pools add to homes?
As of 2018, nearly 2.7 million Aussies lived in a home with a swimming pool – or around 13% of the population – according to Roy Morgan.
Pools can be a plus for would-be buyers in the right market. Picture: realestate.com.au
Compared to a 2015 Roy Morgan survey, where 12% of the population had a pool, that’s an increase of at least a few hundred-thousand people. So clearly pools are popular and may be becoming more so.
But how much value do they actually add? According to HouseLogic, a pool can lift your home’s value by up to 7%, but it’s usually under certain circumstances.
Some of these factors include the climate where you live, the kinds of people you’re selling to and the type of pool you install – but more on these shortly.
While many pool installation companies may claim that adding one can add hundreds of thousands of dollars to your potential sale price, the reality isn’t as straight forward.
Do buyers want homes with pools?
When it comes to buy demand nationally, ‘swimming pool’ is one of the top search terms among browsers on realestate.com.au.
But according to Brad Purcell, National Head of Acquisitions at Milk Chocolate Property, the answer depends on a number of factors including:
- the home
- its location
- the condition of the pool
- the demographics are of those looking at that particular market
He works with all kinds of buyers to locate and buy homes across Australia and says some buyers see a pool as a plus, while others view it as an inconvenience.
A big reason buyers might want a pool is the climate.
“Obviously warmer locations – particularly in the tropics where beach swimming is limited during stinger season – pools are very favourable,” said Mr Purcell.
“Plus, in warmer climates, the length of time throughout the year they’re usable is much greater. In cooler climates, a pool does have the potential to limit purchasers, especially in locations where your realistic swimming window is only three months or so.”
On top of location, the type of buyer is a big determinant.
“Families are, by far, the largest sector of the market that would include pools on their nice-to-have lists,” said Mr Purcell. “Often, downsizers would consider a pool to be less desirable due to the return on effort when comparing potential usage with maintanence.”
Another consideration is the fact that not having a pool means prospective buyers have more flexibility when deciding what to do with the backyard.
“If an asset we’re securing on behalf of a client doesn’t have a pool but offers the potential for one, this ensures that from a re-sale perspective, we’re not limiting the potential target market either way,” said Mr Purcell.
“With potential, those buyers looking for a house with a pool can still have one should they wish, and those who definitely prefer not to have a pool can keep the property on their shortlists as well.
“A smaller home is likely going to be purchased by a younger family or couple who will have plans to extend and add value, particularly rearward into the backyard.
An older, inappropriately placed pool can add a significant expense or ultimately become a barrier to undertaking the work that buyer segment may wish to execute.”
Position can be key to whether or not your pool is a desirable addition for potential buyers. Picture: realestate.com.au
Homes with swimming pools around Australia
So, when it comes to different locations around Australia, just how popular are pools? Unsurprisingly, they’re most prevalent in warmer parts of the country. Regional Queensland, for example, has the highest number of pool owners, whereas Tassie has the lowest.
Here’s a breakdown of homes with swimming pools around Australia.
|Region||Swimming pool ownership|
|Regional NSW (inc. ACT)||10%|
How to add value to your home with a pool
If you’re thinking of installing a pool, but are concerned about the potential impact on your home’s value, there are a few things you can do to increase the likelihood of it becoming an asset rather than a liability.
Go for a high-quality pool
In-ground pools are generally more expensive, but they’re considered more valuable to a home than above-ground ones. So, if your budget allows, you may want to go for the former. Concrete in-ground pools are the most coveted type.
Keep the design classic
Investing in good lighting, landscaping, tiling and other parts of the pool area can add value, too. But when it comes to design, keep things relatively neutral and timeless. You might love a pool area decked out with Flinstones-style artificial rocks and tiki torches, but a number of buyers may not.
Another note on design: try to put the pool in a spot that gets adequate sun and is visible from your house. This can help turn the pool into a visual feature of your garden. It also increases the safety factor, as parents are better able to watch their kids from inside.
Know that bigger isn’t necessarily better
Even if you have enough room for a huge pool, it doesn’t mean you should let it fill the entire backyard. You still want to keep a decent amount of usable yard area, which prospective buyers definitely value – especially if you’re trying to appeal to families.
If you’re tight on space, or your home is more suited to singles and couples without kids, think about a compact plunge pool.
Maintain your pool
A well-kept pool is much more likely to increase a home’s value than one that’s looking a little worse for wear. Keep the pool clean, tidy up the landscaping, maintain the paving and any features like waterfalls and slides, and perform repairs as necessary.
Three things to consider before you get a pool
Before you install a brand-spanking-new pool, you’ll want to evaluate a few things ahead of making the commitment:
The value it adds to your home
Think about all the factors we mentioned earlier that influence a property’s value if it comes with a pool: climate, the kinds of buyers you want to appeal to, the type of pool you can afford to install and its design. All of these will make a big difference as to whether or not a pool is a smart move.
To get an idea of a pool’s value, you could also assess the sale price of properties in your area that come with pools compared to those that don’t.
While a pool can be an asset, don’t forget it’s also a lot of work to maintain. Picture: realestate.com.au
How much it will cost – now and into the future
It’s also worth looking at the cost of installing and maintaining a pool versus how much you’ll use it and the return on investment.
According to Canstar Blue, an above-ground pool can cost anywhere between $2,000-7,000 to install, while an in-ground pool is significantly more at $31,500-100,000 depending on the materials you choose. Add to that fencing, landscaping, lighting, paving and pool accessories, and the up-front cost of a pool can soar pretty quickly.
After that, you’re looking at an average annual running cost of between $660 and $1,000, or around 17% of your electricity bill. You also need to consider that because a pool is a safety risk, it may increase your home insurance premiums.
The work involved
In addition to the costs associated with having a pool, it can require quite a bit of work.
You need to clean both the pool and fliters frequently (unless you pay for a professional to take the work off your hands), regularly measure chlorine and pH, maintain the landscaping and paving around it, look out for any repairs that need to be done, stick to strict safety regulations and keep the water levels in check. That last one can be tricky during periods of water restrictions, as pools use a lot of water.
But if you think you’ll get good use out of your pool, the work, costs and potential challenges around selling your home may well be justified. In many cases, the decision really is a lifestyle one rather than an investment one. So think hard and carefully about your personal preferences and whether the effort is worth it.