The hot, hot days of summer in the South are among us, friends! This time of year many homeowners are thinking about installing a pool of their own to escape the blazing heat. But is building a swimming pool in Greenville, SC worth the money? When you go to sell your home later on down the road, will you recoup your investment? What about the costs of building a pool and the ongoing costs of maintenance? I’m going to dive deep into these questions to help you understand if building a pool in Greenville, SC is a good return on investment for your family!

How much does a pool cost to build and maintain?

Before we analyze whether or not building a pool in Greenville, SC is a good return on investment, we need to know how much it costs to construct and maintain. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of building a pool is around $49,000. The total cost could be more or less depending on the type of pool, location, and size.

Types of Swimming Pools

  • Gunite/Concrete

    • ~ $30,000-$50,000 to build
    • A re-bar framework that is sprayed over with a concrete and sand mixture
    • Can be made into almost any shape
    • Upkeep requires re-plastering and acid washing
  • Fiberglass

    • ~​$20,000-$36,500 to build
    • Molded pools that are installed in your yard in one piece
    • Can typically be installed quickly
    • Never require resurfacing or liner replacement
    • Tend to come in smaller sizes
  • Vinyl

    • ~ $20,000-$40,000 to build
    • Layer of vinyl between the water and the pool structure; underneath the liner is typically a sand floor
    • Easier to keep clean
    • Typically your most cost-effective option

Additional Costs of Owning A Pool

  • Maintenance Costs: According to HomeAdvisor, basic maintenance adds any where from $1,200 to $1,800 per year.
  • Increased Utilities and Repairs: Budget an additional $1,800 to $3,200 every year for increased water and electricity bills as well as any repairs that may need to be made.
  • Homeowner’s Insurance: Owning a pool has increased liability. My insurance friend, Corey Bailey at State Farm, recommends to have at least $1 million of liability on your homeowner’s insurance policy or a liability umbrella policy in force. According to Bailey, the cost is usually between $12 and $40 a month depending on the insurance company. Additionally, you can get structural coverage on the pool. The cost of structural coverage depends on the value of the pool, but will typically add an additional $10 or more per month. It is important to keep in mind that some insurers will not insure pools and/or won’t insure pools with diving boards, etc. While liability insurance is not required, homeowners do need to disclose the pool to their insurance company. Bailey states, “Should they choose to not add appropriate liability they are leaving themselves wide open to major legal issues should anyone ever get hurt in the pool, etc; and should they choose not to disclose the pool to their company then companies do have the right to deny claims.”

Does having a pool make your home harder to sell?

Depends on where you live. According to the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance, the total amount of in-ground swimming pools in the United States as of 2015 was 5,139,990. In warmer parts of the country like Florida and the Midwest, having a swimming pool is the norm. In a 2006 study conducted by a Florida State University student, Florida County Property Appraisers reported a total of 1,093,655 in-ground pools alone, making up about 20% of in-ground pools in the US. In 2015, the top 10 states for the total number of in-ground pools were as follows:

  • California- 1 million+
  • Florida- 1 million+
  • Texas- 390k+
  • Arizona- 300k+
  • New York-230k+
  • Ohio-130k+
  • Pennsylvania- 130k+
  • Massachusetts- 124k+
  • Illinois- 123k+
  • Virginia- 114k+

Although no data could be found as to the number of in-ground swimming pools in South Carolina, we know that is is far less common. So what does this mean for homeowners who own a swimming pool in SC? Will this make your home harder to sell because less people desire a swimming pool in South Carolina or will owning a pool be a bonus to home buyers as they are less common?

Days on Market for Homes With and Without Pools in Greenville, SC

I can’t speak to the entire state of South Carolina, but in my market in Greenville, SC, homes that have pools typically take longer to sell. But how much longer? In 2018, the Greater Greenville Association of REALTORS® reported 11,779 homes that were sold without an in-ground pool. Those homes had an average of 52 days on the market. In the same year, 510 homes with an in-ground pool were sold in the GGAR Multiple Listing Service with an average of 61 days on the market. A difference of 9 days. Doesn’t seem like that big of deal, does it? Let’s look back a few more years and see if the trend holds.

# Homes Sold with No In-Ground Pool
Days on Market with No Pool
# Homes Sold With an In-Ground Pool
Days on Market with Pool
Difference in Days on Market

Since 2010, homes with an in-ground pool that were listed in the Greater Greenville MLS haven taken an average of 11 days longer to sell than homes without an in-ground pool. In my opinion, this isn’t a significant difference if you really want that pool.

Do appraisers give your home more value for having a pool?

We know that it typically takes homes with in-ground pools in Greenville, SC longer to sell, but do appraisers give your home more value if it has a pool? In order to answer this question, I turned to my friend and appraiser Ron Styles with Styles Realty & Appraisals, Inc.

For those who aren’t familiar, an appraiser is hired to determine the value of a home. If you finance your home purchase (rather than pay cash), your mortgage lender will require an appraisal to ensure that your future home’s value is reasonable. The banks don’t want to lend you money for a home that is over-valued!

According to Styles, there is no standard dollar amount that swimming pools contribute to the value of a single-family home. He writes, “Typically, but not always, swimming pools are very commonly worth much less than their cost. In many markets they can be considered an over-improvement or super-adequacy. That is, they cost more than they contribute to the overall value of the property.”

Factors That Determine the Value of a Pool
There are several factors that determine the overall value of a swimming pool:

  • Type of Pool
  • Location
  • Size
  • Quality
  • Condition
  • Market Reaction
  • Demand in the Neighborhood
  • Climate of the Area

Of those factors, Styles stated that market reaction and demand in the neighborhood were by far the most important factors when considering the value of a swimming pool. Market reaction refers to how the market appears to react towards homes with pools. Do these homes typically sit longer on the market? Are buyers deterred by a home with a pool or are they in high demand? In Florida and Arizona, for example, the market reaction towards a home with a pool is much more positive as having a swimming pool is more of a necessity in those warmer climates. The demand in the neighborhood refers to how desirable it is to have a home with a swimming pool in a particular neighborhood. In neighborhoods with community pools, Styles said that personal in-ground pools seem to have less contributory value than those in neighborhoods without a community pool.

Above-Ground Pools Versus In-Ground Pools
It is important to make a distinction between above-ground pools and in-ground pools. According to Styles, above-ground pools are typically considered personal property due to the fact they are movable. For this reason, they do not generally contribute to the value of the home. However, in-ground pools are permanent and are considered to be part of the overall value of the home.

In order to determine the overall value of an in-ground pool, the above factors are considered in addition to analyzing and comparing historical sales data. Overall, Styles writes “The appraisal process requires market research and analysis in order to provide this value, and there is no one standard percentage of cost or amount that a pool contributes to the overall value of the property.”

To buy a pool or not buy a pool?

If you believe you will enjoy a swimming pool for many years to come and don’t mind the regular maintenance and incurring costs of ownership, I say go for it! However, if you are on the fence about buying a home with a pool or building a pool, I recommend answering the following questions:

  • Do you plan on living in the home with the pool for less than 5 years? Consider factors that may cause you to move such as job relocation, downsizing, or needing a bigger home for a growing family.
  • Does your neighborhood have an existing community pool?
  • Will you be disappointed if it takes your home longer to sell as having a home with a pool may narrow the pool (no pun intended) of potential buyers?
  • Will you get tired of the additional monthly costs associated with having a pool such as insurance, maintenance, repair, and increased water/electric bills?
  • Do you have small children whom you may be nervous having around a pool?

I would strongly recommend not having a home with a pool if you answered “yes” to 2 or more of the questions above. If, however, you are not fazed by the increased expenses and you know you would use the pool regularly, I wouldn’t let that stop you from owning one! Pro tip: it makes more sense to purchase a home with an existing pool, rather than building on your own as the return on investment is not guaranteed. Let someone else pay for the pool while you reap the benefits!

I hope this post has given you some helpful things to consider when determining if building a pool in Greenville, SC is a good return on investment for your family. Ready to buy a home with a pool? You can search for homes with pools in the Upstate that are on the market right now! Feel free to reach out at any time if you have questions about buying or selling a home in the Greenville, Spartanburg, Anderson, or Pickens Counties!

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