Don’t you just hate headlines like this? They make an outlandish claim to pique your interest, then fail to deliver what they promise when you read the article. It’s the internet’s equivalent of “made you look!”
Well, in this case, there’s some truth to the idea that you can get a free swimming pool (or at least a deeply discounted one). But as you surely guessed, there’s a big catch, one that will be an instant deal breaker for many people. At the same time, this is no far-fetched gimmick – if anything, it’s an underutilized option that’s perfectly logical given the financial realities of pool ownership.
But enough teasing. How do you get your own backyard swimming pool for free? Simple: Buy a house that already has one.
The Value of a Pool
The key point behind this strategy is that, compared to other home renovation projects, swimming pools are poor investments. They generally add some value to a home, but it rarely amounts to the full cost of installation. In practice, this means that when the home gets sold, the pool comes at a discount – or even gets thrown in for free.
Of course, finding a home with a “discounted” pool isn’t always easy. It’s most likely to happen in one of the following scenarios:
- you live in an area where the climate is colder and fewer people want swimming pools
- the home is in a neighborhood where luxury features are less common
- the pool is old, poorly maintained, or needs to be renovated for some other reason
- it’s an above ground pool
Interestingly, homes with pools also sell for less during the colder months. This is probably because the pools aren’t staged as attractively during the offseason, and buyers simply aren’t thinking about summer fun. With some patience, you can take advantage of this fact to avoid competition and potentially get a good deal.
If moving just to get a pool seems like an extreme measure, keep in mind that we’re talking about extreme money here. Building an inground pool from scratch can easily cost $50,000 or more, depending on size, materials, and features. That should be enough to inspire you to think outside the box.
That said, the idea of moving makes the most sense for two types of people: 1) current homeowners who have gotten bored with their property and want to upgrade, and 2) prospective pool owners who are already in the market for a new home. In both cases, buying a home with a pool already installed could save a lot of money – not to mention the effort, inconvenience, and time involved in having a pool built.
The Reality Check on Free Swimming Pools
The number one reason a lot of people have already stopped reading this article is that they can’t or won’t move. There’s a sentimental attachment to the house, or other factors that make swapping homes a nonstarter. It’s also true that the finances don’t always work in favor of moving, despite the big savings gained by avoiding pool installation.
Even if you’re open to moving, a problem you might run into is a lack of options. As mentioned, pools are most often discounted in areas where they’re less common. Of course, being less common makes them harder to find – especially when you’re looking for homes in a particular price range with other must-have features.
Also, the more particular you are about styles and features, the less likely you are to be satisfied with an existing pool. If you simply have to have a indoor/outdoor pool, a semi-inground lap pool, or a fiberglass plunge pool – good luck finding it on the real estate market. You can always renovate an existing pool to meet your standards, but that could be very pricey.
To sum up, buying a home with a pool already installed won’t work for everyone. But considering the cost/value ratio of building a pool, it’s something that’s worth looking into. After all, the only thing you have to lose is a hefty pool installation bill.