With home buyers concerned about safety and costs, swimming pools have lost appeal in recent years. The house pictured shows the worst offender – the pool that takes up the whole backyard.
There’s an opportunity for flippers here – buying houses with old pools, do the demo and landscape, and then re-sell them. There could be a $40,000 to $50,000 benefit turning a big negative into a big positive.
from the U-T:
“It wasn’t getting any use and had become the proverbial money pit to keep up,” said Allen, who estimated he was spending $200 a month for water, electricity and maintenance.
So Allen turned to Bill Stults, owner of James Construction Cleanup Inc., to transform his swimming hole into a backyard landscaped with artificial turf, decorative rocks, cactus and a small bubbling fountain.
For Stults, business is booming. He said he is filling about two pools a week, a number consistent with work being done by other contractors in the county.
“I’m getting calls all of the time, sometimes three or four a day,” Stults said.
He and the other contractors say clients offer a variety of reasons for replacing their pools, work that costs between $5,000 and $12,000.
Some cite the water crisis. Others say they can’t afford the increasing maintenance costs, especially for older pools. Others say they have simply tired of the pool and want a yard.
Although building departments do not keep statistics on the number of pool removals, many building officials countywide say they are seeing a slow and steady increase in the number being removed and expect the trend to continue. Demolition companies report as much as a 30 percent increase in pool removals since the first of the year.
I love a pool, but it’s really a luxury item. Like the neighbor with the huge RV.
Rising incomes in post WW II America allowed increasing numbers of families to afford them.
Declining wages and fortunes means-pools have got to go.
With tiered water rates coming to all districts on or by Sept 1 across SO CA the water costs are going to skyrocket. I know our VID water is going to cost me dearly with 1.3 acres, which about 2/3 of I irrigate. It will keep me from putting in a pool for sure. Districts call drought, then they want us to conserve, then they raise rates as no matter what they need the same or larger revenues as past. So we all just pay more for less. Electrical went the same way a couple years ago, shortage of power across the grid leads to conservation and conservation leads to increased costs for all. Its a good racket with no competition in the utilities industry.
I’ve got 3 young children and a pool is the only way I can keep them outside, exercising and physically fit during the sweltering summers in Central Texas. They aren’t going to play on the street in front of the house when it’s 105. Without a pool my kids would probably be inside all day in front of the computer or TV and 10 lbs heavier than they are. Owning a pool saves me from having to drive to the Y every day and mingle with all the soccer moms (gag) for a couple hours every day. I teach HS and my wife is a doctor so I’m the one home all summer with the kids. Of course this being Texas we have a much larger lot than the typical SoCal house and still have a back yard even with the pool.
That said, once the kids are out of the house I doubt the pool will get much use. But that’s 15 years away.
I’d be willing to bet every pool you’ve ever seen filled in had a pool to useable yard ratio in excess of 40%.
Two of the happiest days of my life!
One was when I bought the adjacent lot and built a pool!
The other one was when I sold the house and got rid of it!!
Find a local pool for summer use and use that. After summer time, pools are worthless. If your lap swimming I guarantee you it will not be in a backyard pool.
I’m a split dweller – 75% desert, 25% coastal.
Our desert locale has one, is preferable, and currently (no water restrictions) an advantage.
Have access to a community pool at our coastal development location, which we have never availed ourselves of. View it as an obsolete & unnecessary HOA overhead expense, especially moving forward. Close beach and community (city) pool access more than adequately fill the recreational water bill.
Consultant’s on target — all the luxuries that people have enjoyed in recent years will fall victim to tightening budgets.
That said, a well-planned pool can be maintained inexpensively. Fiberglass coated surfaces require fewer chemicals. Water consumption, filtration & cleaning can be minimized by keeping it covered when not in use. A combination of an oversized heater and a solar cover cuts heating costs. [A solar power/heater system would be ideal.] Finally, a decent pool can sometimes net a fire insurance discount.
I wonder if people realize that the water requirements of a decently landscaped yard — grass, trees, flowers, etc. — can easily exceed that of a pool.
“There’s an opportunity for flippers here – buying houses with old pools, do the demo and landscape, and then re-sell them. There could be a $40,000 to $50,000 benefit turning a big negative into a big positive.”
Is this honestly still a reality?
Are we to believe people in California are still earning big returns on Real Estate? Good luck getting people to believe that one.
I agree with you in general JimB, but there are still opportunities out there. Recent flipper in my neck of the woods (Pt Loma) bought for ~ 400 and flipped 6 months later for 8. It’s rare, but possible. Obviously the money is made on the buy end.
Never been a pool person. Wouldn’t even look at a house that had one.
Things may be different is SoCal, but my realtor up north once told me that 20% of buyers love pools, 20% hate them and the other 60% don’t care one way or the other but won’t pay more for one. Seems like terrible odds if you’re buying with resale in mind.
I suppose time will tell us who had it right in that deal. It’s of little consequence if the buyer ever walks away. Well simply all pick up the tab.
I forget sometimes that we as a country are so unsound economically, to try and use fundamentals as a tool for a ‘rational’ calculus is moot.
My sister and I lived in the same home in the Bay Area my entire childhood until we went away to college. Many of my best childhood memories include a pool.
My parents had bought a 1/3 acre lot in the Bay Area for a ridiculously tiny amount. Had the home built (2000sf) with another 2000 sf unfinished basement and added the pool. My dad loved doing the maintenance. They sold it for $80K.
A family bought it (only took a couple weeks to sell) 10 years ago for $668K, and it’s now worth over $1.2 million (Zillow). We had a 2-hour visit with the present owners soon after they bought it. They had an electric pool cover installed as they had 3 young kids. (I still keep in touch with them by email, and they loved all my childhood pictures I showed them of the home being built.)
A couple years ago, a realtor tried to show me a home in a neighborhood I loved. The internet pictures were incredibly awesome–but the pool in the backyard was a deal breaker for me to even set foot in the house for a showing. No matter how many times she told me how much I’d love it, my answer was always the same: Pool! Pool! Pool!
It took the owner (a real estate agent) a year to sell it.
I neither want the water bills, the increased homeowner’s insurance rates, or the maintenance headaches that go along with it *Chuckle* It’s one thing when you’re a kid–another one when you ARE the adult paying the bills!
Things may be different is SoCal, but my realtor up north once told me that 20% of buyers love pools, 20% hate them and the other 60% don’t care one way or the other but won’t pay more for one.
Sounds about right. Count us in the 20% that love them, but — even then — we’ll have to love the pool as well as the house.
I think a pool is 100% neutral. Like GeneK said, some people absolutely want one, some people absolutely don’t, some people don’t care. It’s not a positive-but it’s not a negative, either. I don’t see removing a pool as being a profitable proposition for a flip-unless the pool is in poor condition, which might be what Jim is saying here.
In high school (1970s), my best friend and I used to go to the hotels in Hotel Circle in Mission Valley. We’d waltz into the pool area, noses in the air, as if we were guests. Never got busted. Not saying this was right…just that it happened.
The newer pool equipment is so much more energy efficient and mind blowingly quiet…virtually unrecognizable from the equipment I grew up with as a kid. Maintenance doesn’t have to be expensive if you’re willing to get your hands dirty with the chemistry and brushing yourself. Sort of like why pay someone $50 a month to mow and blow, just do it yourself, its not brain surgery. Like has been said, it comes down to the individual personality of the owner.
Our second RB house had a pool. But, it also had a big yard, so there was grass and pool. Saw way too many places in Westwood (first house locale) with zero yard because of the pool. If I still lived there, I would probably want a pool. If you also have a spa, you can use it year-round.
Now that I live back East, I couldn’t fathom actually owning one. Even though summers are way worse with the humidity, the thunderstorms limit the use and you have to close them and open them every season with a partial draining and a line purge. Solution: Join the local pool club and let them deal with it.
Just to add my $.02:
Pools do not cost $5K to $12K to fill in. I checked into this about 6 months ago, and it’ll be more like $15K to $45K for the total job to do it right including permits, inspections, labor, materials, and everything. And, note that you’ll always have compaction and potential standing water issues if it’s a shotcrete/rebar dealie. Don’t forget that you always have to disclose this to the buyer when you sell. It’s about as much to fill one in as it is to build one. Check with a local licensed contractor who routinely performs these and has experience. There are very stringent guidelines where soil samples have to be taken, engineering reports have to be issued, and most importantly hill impact studies have to be performed. I wouldn’t wish this process on my worst enemies.
Besides, $40 to $50K wouldn’t barely cover buying/selling costs. Noone is going to flip a house with a pool, or if they do, they’re a complete and utter fool. (doesn’t mean people wont’ try). If they did it wrong, the new owner has to pay to dig the hole back out, have the inspections and engineering work done and fill it back in. Nightmare.
I thought having a pool was one of the reasons to live in San Diego! What a mess! At least the chances of mosquitoes go down with every one that is removed