Question: I prepare my home for marketing and do cosmetic repairs. I have an inground pool that needs repairs which, frankly, I postponed. The pool needs to be plastered, there are cracks around the tile and some of the copings are loose. Should I fix these things, leave them to the next buyer, or fill the pool with soil?
A: I wouldn’t fill the pool with dirt. While some buyers don’t like swimming pools, they’re common enough – and desirable enough – in the sweltering Phoenix heat to be more of a more than a minus, even if not in the best of condition. While this is still a buyer’s market in Phoenix, if anyone is interested in a swimming pool, they will find that fixing a pool that needs repairs is likely to cost about half the cost of building a new one. .
I also don’t recommend that you do the repairs before you put the house on the market, for reasons I’ll explain below. It flies in the face of my usual advice to sort out all maintenance issues before you put a house on the market. But when it comes to pool issues, it may be best to just disclose what’s wrong and then offer buyers a discount.
I say this as someone who 15 years ago bought a home in Virginia with an aging pool and many of the issues you describe. The owner didn’t initially reveal any issues with the pool, but a pool inspector my real estate agent recommended found them nonetheless (you can expect whoever buys your home to have the pool inspected as well). I was able to negotiate with the seller a discount sufficient to cover the repairs. While the workers were working on it, I had them improve a few things at my expense, like the copings and the type of filter, to my liking.
This is the key here. There are many options besides the basic white plaster for finishing pool surfaces these days, including colorful hues, pebble textures, and glittering quartz. Since the finish will cost several thousand dollars and last for over a decade, it makes more sense to let buyers decide than to choose for them. Likewise, once they have moved in and the pool is emptied for repairs, they may also decide to make upgrades such as waterfalls, built-in spas and slides, more sophisticated coping or other flourishes. .
Of course, I wouldn’t go for any of these upgrades, but I would get an estimate from your pool contractor for the necessary repairs and basic white plastering. You can expect it to cost several thousand dollars, depending on the size, age and condition of the pool.
In the meantime, do what you can to spruce up the look of your pool, at least cosmetically. I have found that a pumice stone on a stick, which can be found in most pool stores, works wonders in removing surface stains. I also managed to fill in the hairline cracks along the waterline using a mason’s pointing tool. To spare my back, I don’t try to fill them with dry land; instead, I go into the pool and swim along the edge of the pool with my little waterproof crack filler pan balanced on my son’s foam bodyboard board.
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