Is it a Pool or a money pit?


Is it a pool or a money pit?

Backyard swimming pools seem like the American dream, but they are pricey to

maintain and fix. And they can actually hurt your resale value.

By Melinda Fulmer

Touring that new house with a pool, you imagine a future of weekend swim parties, envious neighbors and relaxing evening swims. Reality, however, includes weekly chemical treatments, higher utility bills and endless pool skimming.

Experts recommend that before taking the plunge on a home with a pool, house hunters should take a hard look at the costs and upkeep involved. In addition, they say, an aging pool is not only likely to require costly repairs but can actually hurt the resale value of the house.

Real-estate agents say it's important to know the condition and age of the pool you are getting.

"If the pool has been neglected and needs a lot of work, or the concrete is buckling, that can be a red flag," says Sylvester McGinn of ReMax Executive Realty in Charlotte, N.C. "That's a hole in the ground where they are going to pour money."

It also pays to study the market. Depending on the region or even the neighborhood, a pool can add or detract from the resale price of a home.

Who wouldn't want a pool?

Even in hot, humid Houston, agents say there are as many people who don't want pools as do want them.

"It's a wash," says LaRetta Allen of Prudential Gary Green Realtors. "A lot of families with children and older people don't want the liability." However, in some pricier neighborhoods with larger lots, she says, it's almost expected.

Do your homework, appraisers say, and count the pools in your neighborhood.