Tales of a Seasoned Broker

As the temperature begins to climb, catching many of us still dressed for early spring, our attention moves from simple walks and outdoor recreation to thoughts of everyone’s favorite summer activity, which is, of course, swimming. For most of us the challenge of where to swim still prevails. While countless families across the country have been caught up in the “create your favorite hotel pool in your own backyard” phase, the overwhelming majority of homes in Bergen County  do not include the amenity of a swimming pool. And this brings us to the question of the day:  from a purely real estate perspective, does adding a pool increase or decrease the value of one’s home?    

To some the answer may seem obvious and the question unwarranted. “Of course” they would respond, “who wouldn’t want a pool in their own backyard? Never having to plan another Sunday of activities would be a dream!” And yes, on the other hand, it will come as no surprise that to some the thought of having a pool on their property creates such visceral reactions as “Heaven forbid” or “ I would have to fill it in and turn it into a patio. Imagine  having to host  my friends and family suddenly eager to come over. All those wet towels! Most importantly,  I would be very nervous having my kids near the pool. I’d never let them go out alone in the backyard!” 

So while the two sides are clearly opposite,  they don’t actually address the question of how a swimming pool affects home values.  It is a well established  principle in the world of real estate,  that the surest way to increase the worth of a home is to ensure that any  project/upgrade appeals to the greatest number of people.  Every buyer  without exception wants a spacious kitchen with stone counters and new appliances. Every home buyer dreams of  a master bathroom attached to their master bedroom. But what about those amenities  that are costly to  install and maintain yet not well-suited to everyone? Take, for example,  an in-home movie theater.  I have seen,  first hand, that there are buyers who do not view a movie theater in the basement as the best use of space. Rather than their family watching movies, they would prefer playing  ping pong or pool with the kids.   For those particular buyers a theater would not add tens of thousands of dollars to the value of the house. 

Pools have traditionally been considered another  such amenity.  While swimming is generally  viewed as a great activity,  there does not seem to be a commensurate desire to build and maintain a pool on one’s own property. I certainly see a shift, a warming up of sorts by many families to the idea of owning a pool. The expense notwithstanding, the general fears associated with mixing pools and little kids has been mitigated to a certain extent by the advent of tightly reinforced safety enclosures as well as a whole new set of technologies in the form of alarms and cameras that can create a degree of comfort.  With parents moving from the “helicopter” style of parenting to the” bulldozer” method there is little time when today’s kids are  unsupervised.  Therefore,  if the parents are already hovering right nearby… there may as well be a pool!

At the end of the day it’s simply a  personal/family decision that can go either way. My feeling is that  if you love swimming and can afford putting in a pool (and are not planning to move next year)   the benefits outweigh the negatives. And after you have taken all the proper safety precautions… cannonball! 

Nechama Polak is the Broker of Record and owner of V and N Group LLC located at 1401 Palisade Ave in Teaneck. nechamapolak@gmail.com 201 826 8809.