Ask Eli: Demand for Home Pools Increasing

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: Have you seen a change in demand for home pools since COVID-19 began?

Answer: In 2017 I wrote that for most homes in Northern Virginia (and the D.C. metro), having a pool had a negative impact on resale because most buyers see them as a hazard, unnecessary expense and/or inefficient use of yard. However, COVID has changed the minds of many buyers and caused demand for homes with pools to increase significantly.

Demand for Pools Much Higher in 2020+

Below is a look at the data (as of April 4, 2021) of homes sold with a pool in Arlington County, Falls Church City, Alexandria City, Fairfax County and Loudoun County since 2015. The numbers were pretty consistent prior to 2020, then demand clearly shifted in favor of pools due to COVID. All indicators improved significantly for people selling a home with a pool.

Demand Similar Across Northern Virginia

I broke down the sales data since 2015 between each Northern Virginia jurisdiction to see if certain markets perform better or worse on sales of homes with pools. It turns out that there’s not much of a difference on where you’re buying in Northern Virginia — the interest in pools seems to be relatively similar across each market. Note how few homes in Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church have pools.

Looking for a Pool?

If you’re looking for a house with a pool in Northern Virginia, I wrote an article last year breaking down what sub-markets you’re most likely to find homes with a pool for sale and the sales data for those homes.

Unfortunately, it’s incredibly expensive to build your own pool here. Most people are shocked when they find out what it costs to build a gunite (concrete) in-ground pool around here, which usually runs from $150,000 to $200,000 before additional patio and landscaping work.

I linked up with local Arlington landscape designer/expert Rob Groff, of Groff Landscape Design, to find out why it’s so much more expensive to build a pool here than elsewhere in the region/country. I also asked about a common strategy I’ve heard from homeowners to hire an out-of-town company to build a pool for less and pay for their travel/lodging during the project to save some money.

Q: Why is it so expensive to build a pool here?

A: It’s so much more expensive to build a pool here because permitting is more time consuming and expensive; materials and labor are more expensive; average lot size is smaller, which oftentimes causes problems; and engineering, municipal-related site preparation, such as construction entrances, super silt fence, site restoration, drainage, etc. are all a factor.

Q: Is it more cost-effective for homeowners to hire an out-of-town pool company who builds pools for less money and pay for their travel/lodging?

A: A lot of pool companies don’t include all expenses upfront and therefore there are a ton of surprise costs on the back-end of the pool project. I’ve seen this a lot, especially from out-of-area pool companies. We actually set up a spreadsheet and accompany some of our clients in the vetting process. We had a local company at $205,000 for a pool that a Fredericksburg-based company had at $145,000. By the time the meeting was over and we corrected the Fredericksburg company to make sure they didn’t leave anything off, they were up at $215,000.

Q: Are there more affordable options for in-ground pools that you recommend?

A: In Northern Virginia, a gunite (concrete) pool has been the standard for a long time. On average, we see these coming in at $150,000 to $200,000 in Northern Virginia (not including the pool patio and other surrounding elements like landscaping, lighting, etc.). Fiberglass pools are growing in popularity and their base price is closer to $55,000 to $65,000 (River Pools and Spa). These fiberglass pools don’t feel the same to many homeowners as a true gunite pool, but they save enough money to make people consider them. There are a ton of good videos on their website that explains the differences between gunite and fiberglass, etc.

If you’d like to discuss buying, selling, investing, or renting, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected].

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to set-up an in-person meeting to discuss local Real Estate, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at 703-539-2529.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with RLAH Real Estate, 4040 N Fairfax Dr #10C Arlington VA 22203. 703-390-9460.