Is It Time for a Pool? A Horse?

When the pandemic was in full swing, we didn’t have access to the entertainment we’re used to—no restaurant dining, no sports, no live theater, no concerts, no big gatherings of any kind. Neighborhood kids weren’t even allowed to throw together a game of street baseball. Obviously, this had many impacts, not least of which was that some stay-at-home parents with the means to invest in their home decided they needed more built-in entertainment for their children and at-home stress relief for themselves. When their children said, “I’m bored,” parents wanted to be able to recommend something other than simply reading a book or playing video games. As the father of five, I can tell you that kids come with an abundance of energy, and if they do not move their bodies they can become both irritable and irritating.

This, I believe, is why more people are considering installing pools. Conventional wisdom is that you won’t recuperate the whole cost of pool installation, should you decide to sell your house. In fact, sometimes pools can detract from the property’s overall value. However, according to a recent California Real Estate Association publication, a typical pool that in recent years would have increased the overall value of a property by $16,000 now increases the value by closer to $27,000.

The cost of installing a pool varies significantly depending on its style and size. A 20-foot, above-ground Doughboy pool is a lot cheaper than a 20- by 60-foot, in-ground gunite pool. The above-ground pool and installation will likely run about $5,000, while the in-ground pool will be closer to $60,000. When it comes to the value a pool adds, style and size are not the only considerations; you must also consider how the pool fits on the property.

If you have an above-ground pool that covers two-thirds of the backyard and requires a step ladder to get in, you may be asked to remove the pool before you sell your house. On the other hand, a large, high-quality, in-ground pool surrounded by extensive hardscape and tasteful landscaping on a three-acre parcel will likely add more than $27,000 to the value of the property (but almost never the full value of the installation cost).

If you’re thinking of adding a pool as a financial investment, it’s a bad decision. The expense of installing the pool is only the beginning. When I called Rogina Water, they said I was welcome to install a pool but that they wouldn’t fill it with water during the current drought. To fill a new pool with water, you may need to have the water trucked in, which will cost you several thousand dollars. Then there’s the upkeep and maintenance on the pool, the electricity to run the pump, and the increased property taxes. If the overall value of the pool is $75,000, the property taxes will go up by about $900 a year. So, no, this is not a sound financial investment. However, if you’re thinking of adding a pool because it will lead to endless hours of fun for your kids who will come in after an afternoon of swimming too worn-out and content to complain about anything, then it’s a fantastic investment.

Of course, pools are not the only entertainment you can invest in. If you own a few acres and your darling daughter has been begging for a horse since she was six, you might consider building a barn, a tack room, and a corral and purchasing the horse. There are few things that will keep certain children happier and busier than caring for and spending time with a horse. Expensive? Yes. Worth it? For the right child, absolutely.

If you have questions about property management or real estate, please contact me at or call (707) 462-4000. If you have an idea for a future column, share it with me and if I use it, I’ll send you a $25 gift certificate to Schat’s Bakery. Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 45 years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *