June 5th - 2013

In the swim: Pools and real estate

If you’re selling a home with a swimming pool, be sure your buyer is aware of the risks and responsibilities as well as the benefits.

If you’re selling a home with a swimming pool, be sure your buyer is aware of the risks and responsibilities as well as the benefits.

“A swimming pool can be a terrific place for entertaining and exercise, but safety should be foremost,” says Larry Cerqua, a Toronto broker with 33 years of experience in real estate. “If my clients buy a home with a pool and they haven’t owned a pool before, I like to make them aware of safety issues, local bylaws and codes for fences, locks and gates. People should enjoy their pool but it’s best for them to be aware of safety issues right from the start.”

Municipalities have different bylaws for swimming pools, says Cerqua, an instructor at the Ontario Real Estate Association. “I always try to put a clause into the agreement of purchase and sale stating that the swimming pool is up to code.”

A pool can be a magnet for visitors on warm summer days, he adds. “You as the home owner are responsible for the safety of your guests,” he says. “Even if you don’t have young children, you may have relatives, friends and neighbours with kids and you must still be careful.”

Pool maintenance takes time and can be costly, he adds. “Many people see a swimming pool as their cottage in the city, and it can be a great thing, but they should also know that that there’s a safety and maintenance side to it.”

Cerqua has seen situations where a pool leaked and a new liner had to be purchased, another potential expense for a buyer. “I’m a pool owner myself so I know that keeping it up can be expensive, especially if you have to hire a company to come in to remedy a problem.”

Home inspections don’t normally include pools, notes Patrick Rocca, a Toronto broker with 18 years of experience in real estate, who is also a pool owner. Buyers may need a separate inspection by a pool company, he says, which represents another cost.

Hot tubs are another source of concern, notes Rocca. He discusses safety issues related to hot tubs and pools with buyers so they understand that they must comply with municipal bylaws.

Rocca recently sold two homes with swimming pools, and in those instances the buyers stipulated in writing that they wanted the sellers to handle the procedures for opening the pool at the start of the summer and before the house sale closed.

Is a swimming pool an asset or a liability to a house on the market? That’s in the eye of the beholder, according to both REALTORS®.

“People either like the pool or they don’t, and I let buyers know that if they don’t want a pool, that doesn’t have to be a deal breaker,” says Rocca. “They can always fill it in, and many people choose to do so for different reasons.”

Swimming pools have pros and cons when you’re selling, he adds. “In my experience, a house with a pool tends to attract buyers whose children are a bit older, at least six or seven. It’s a tougher sell for families with infants or toddlers -- they tend to be wary of pools for safety reasons.”

“The idea that a pool enhances the dollar value of your house can be a misconception,” says Cerqua. “The value of a pool is a very personal thing.”

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Ontario Real Estate Association

Jean-Adrien Delicano

Manager, Media Relations

JeanAdrienD@orea.com

416-445-9910 ext. 246