With summer in full swing but the pandemic still raging, a pool is the one home feature that homeowners are either glad to have or are trying to get.
“I felt like the luckiest guy in the world when COVID-19 first hit and we became sequestered because I was able to work from my yard and had a pool,” Aaron Kirman, president of the estates division at Compass in Los Angeles, told Inman.
While pools have always been a common sight among LA’s luxury real estate, they have exploded in popularity in all types of properties this summer. It is, he said, the summer’s “number-one essential” and one of the first things clients bring up when they first express interest in a home.
The reasons have a lot to do with the current pandemic. As states like California and Florida battle fresh outbreaks of the coronavirus, limited travel opportunities mean that both families and individuals are spending much more time at home this summer than they initially planned.
“After a certain price point, pools were always a given,” said Kirman. “But today they are a necessity because people are staying home.”
Being able to go swimming gives one the sense of being on vacation even if stuck at home, Jennifer Shemwell, president of the Phyllis Browning Company in San Antonio, told Inman. For her, the number of clients inquiring about pools has doubled since the start of the spring. And that interest is coming both from potential homebuyers and current owners who are interested in having a pool built into an existing home.
“People are spending a lot more time at home,” Shemwell said. “They have also cut back on personal training and gym memberships. This makes it much more attractive financially to invest in home swimming pools.”
Michael Dean, a designer who constructs home pools in Asheville, North Carolina, said that there are generally three types of pools that one can find in a single-family home: above-ground, in-ground and underground. An above-ground pool is generally more affordable and easier to install since, as a large basin, it can simply be placed in an open part of the yard. The costs for one average around $12,000.
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“The industry has been going off like crazy in the last couple of months,” Dean said, adding that some of his competitors have seen orders for pool installations quadruple since the start of the pandemic. “It’s typically busiest in the winter and early spring because folks want to have it ready by the summer.”
Costs for in-ground and underground pools, meanwhile, vary depending on the material — one made of fiberglass will average around $30,000 while a concrete pool can cost up to $200,000. Underground pools, which are built into the structure of the house or are covered by a concrete gazebo, will be even more expensive since they require more extensive work with the structure of the main house. Some luxury properties also have infinity pools, in which the water flows off the edge to create a rimless effect.
Kofi Nartey, who leads the luxury brokerage Society Real Estate and Development in Los Angeles, said that pools can immediately make a home more attractive to prospective buyers and renters — the bigger and more stylish the pool, the more interesting it will look to people who plan to live in the house.
“Adding a pool now will definitely add value to a home in the future, but it has to be a real pool,” Nartey said. “I have shown a few homes recently that had pools the size of jacuzzis. You don’t have to have an Olympic-size pool, but you should be able to have more than two people in it at a time.”
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That said, this kind of construction work is a big commitment. According Dean, the installation process for a concrete pool takes anywhere from six to eight weeks. As a result, it is not a decision that should be made due to pandemic panic or boredom over not being able to travel. An average home pool also costs between $900 and $1,800 annually to maintain.
“If you are thoughtful in your planning about where you invest in your structure, it can add a lot of aesthetic value to your property,” Dean said. “But if you get a pool and don’t really take care of it or are not super thoughtful about where you excavate it, that could create potential structural issues and larger ramifications down the road.”
But while pools were once considered a nice-to-have and low-priority pipe dream for the average homebuyer, agents do not see the increased demand for them going down anytime soon. Katie Jarman, a Coldwell Banker agent in California’s Marin County, said that the pandemic has pushed many homeowners into first considering a pool, but given how long it’s lasted, can turn into a long-term draw.
“So many families with children of all ages are asking for homes with pools,” she told Inman. “Since the public pools are closed and many of our beaches and lakes are as well, families are looking for properties that have a pool for their private use. They want to create their own mini resort so they can stay home and have some fun.”