First-time Buyer - What About Pools?

Written by Posted On Wednesday, 28 May 2014 12:39


Question - The house that I like has a pool, what should I know about that?

Answer –  Hey, I know that the first thing that comes to mind is partying around the pool on sun-filled days with a pitcher of margaritas on hand; but hold on beach boy, there are some serious issues that you need to consider.

First off, what kind of pool? Is it an in-ground gunite pool or an above ground pool with a liner? If it’s an above ground pool, do you plan on using it? What shape is the liner in? For either type, does the pool look like it has been well maintained? How old are the pool mechanicals – the filter and heater? Are there any leaks?

A well-done and well-maintained, in-ground pool of good size will usually add more value to a house than an above ground. Many people also do not understand the FHA requirements for railings and other safety issues involved with the decks that they build around their above-ground pools. If you don’t see railings all along the edgers of that deck you will have an issue if you plan to use an FHA mortgage. Both types of pools have strict electrical requirements for lights or electrical outlets close to the pool.  Everything should be GFCI protected. That is another oft overlooked issue that can cause problems with FHA-backed mortgages.

There are many different types of pools, both in-ground and above ground. Some are small and are really nothing much more than a small upgrade from the inflatable pools you might buy at Walmart for the kids to splash around in on a hot summer day. Many smaller fiberglass in-ground pools might fall into that category – good for getting wet and splashing around, but of little use for actual swimming.

Some in-ground pools are designed as lap pools, with a long, relatively narrow swimming lane in which the user can “do laps.” Some even smaller one use a system of pumps to push water against the swimmer and one actually swims in place for exercise. Really nice, larger pools may have features like waterfalls and infinity edges (where the water seems to flow off into the horizon.

When you buy a house with a pool it is a good idea to have a pool professional inspect the pool and the mechanicals and advise you on any required updates or replacements. Normal home inspectors may not be properly trained to give the pool a thorough inspection. Pay close attention to the advice you’ll get on the filter and heater and on the pool cover and condition and life expectancy of the pool liner.

Many pool owners have a professional pool company open the pool at the beginning of each season and close it at the end. They know what they are doing and not doing those things right can get expensive. Many people will have those same companies out during the season to test the water and make adjustments to the pool chemicals. Speaking of chemicals, unless you have a salt-water pool you’ll become very familiar with terms like shock and chorine or bromine and pool testing strips.  You can read about salt-water pools by clicking here. In either case other things like back-flushing your filter will join your lexicon.

Pools require maintenance work to do for about 7- 8 months of the year and most in this area require trucking in water for the spring fill-up. Pools in use require constant cleaning attention to keep leaves and debris out. They also require safety attention when there are people using them, especially children.

Pools are a really mixed blessing from a real estate point of view and can be from the owners point of view, too. Many would-be buyers would get scared off by a pool, so consider what the impact will be when you go to sell. So look at the house with a pool realistically and not just with good times and partying in mind. Also look into the added cost for your home owner’s insurance policy if you have a pool. Do they add much value? My view is that it’s mainly in the minds of their owners.


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Norm Werner

Norm Werner is a Realtor at the Milford office of Real Estate One serving the southeastern Michigan area of Oakland and Livingston Counties. Norm specializes in residential real estate. Norm lives and works in Milford Michigan and is married to Carolyn Werner. Norm and Carolyn live in a historic home just three blocks from downtown Milford, with their two dogs - Sadie and Skippy. Norm specializes in the historic homes of Milford and the surrounding area and is on the Board of Directors of the Milford Historical Society. Norm especially enjoys working with first time buyers and those at the other end of the real estate spectrum who are downsizing into their retirement home. 

In addition to his web site, Norm also owns and m,aintains web site, the web site. He is also the webmaster for and the web site and the MilfordCar web site, as well as his church web site - In addition to blogging about real eastate, Norm has a personal blog - - on which he shares inspirational messages and the occasions personal observation about life.

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