Water flows into the swimming pool through a sleek U-shaped metal channel.(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Last year, houses with pools in the L.A. metro area sold for an average of $95,392 more than similar homes without them, a recent Redfin report says.(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)
Many homeowners who add swimming pools are parents hoping a cool backyard will be a catalyst for keeping their kids at home.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Clean-line pools are the rage at the moment. Rectangular and minimalist, they pair well with the Cape Cods and modern farmhouses popping up across the city.(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
L.A.’s love affair with swimming pools has lasted for generations, and for good reason. Summers are sunny, winters are mild, and many luxury listings flaunt an indoor-outdoor lifestyle where backyards are as crucial as any living room or kitchen.
A recent report from Redfin says they might not be a bad investment, either.
The study, which analyzed 26,000 properties sold in the L.A. metropolitan area last year, found that homes with a pool sold for an average of $95,393 more than similar homes without them.
Of the 20 metro areas analyzed, that’s the highest by far. Orange County ranked second, with pools adding an average of $55,885 to a home’s value. Austin, Texas, ranked third at $52,228.
“Our climate is the biggest contributor,” said Lindsay Katz, a real estate agent active in the San Fernando Valley. “Pools rarely freeze here in the winter, and it’s not as hot as Phoenix or as humid as Tampa Bay in the summer.”
Phoenix ranked second-to-last on the list, with pools adding an average of $11,591 to a home’s value. At the bottom is Boston, a city with brutal winters where homes with pools actually sold for $15,484 less than homes without them.
L.A.’s affluence also plays a role, Katz said. If you can afford a multimillion-dollar house, you can probably swallow the cost of a pool, but less wealthy homeowners elsewhere may not want to drown in cleaning, repair and water bills, which can amount to hundreds monthly.
That would explain why Los Angeles — where the median home value as of February was $694,200, according to Zillow — is so much higher on the list than other California cities. Riverside pools add $44,750 to a home’s value; Oakland pools add $29,487; Sacramento pools add $20,616; and San Diego pools add $20,001.
Public pools often take the place of private in less expensive cities, but that’s not an area where Los Angeles excels. There are 1.18 million pools in California, according to Metrostudy, but L.A. has fewer public pools per 100,000 residents than cities such as Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Omaha, New Orleans, Orlando and Denver.
Of the 26,000 L.A.-area homes included in the study, about 6,000 had pools, or roughly 23%. Katz added that she wouldn’t be surprised to see that number rise, estimating that 60% of San Fernando Valley home buyers consider a pool a priority.
“Many of my clients live far from the ocean, and without much access to public pools, there aren’t many places to swim unless you have your own,” Katz said.
She recently listed an Encino home for $1.5 million, but because its backyard was too small for a pool, she lost potential buyers.
“At that price point, a pool’s not required, but it’s definitely expected,” she said.
Matt Barash, president of custom pool-building company Coastal Aquatic Creations, said he’s selling more pools than ever.
He’s been with the company since its genesis in 1994 and said sales have been steady, but last year was its best. This year is off to a promising start as well, with business booming on the Westside in Venice, Mar Vista, Westchester, Cheviot Hills and Beverlywood.
However, he’d be surprised if the average pool really resulted in a nearly six-digit jump in a home’s value.
Most projects take six to twelve weeks, with cost ranging from $50,000 to $70,000. He’s installed eye-catchers that cost half a million, but his business strategy right now is to focus on volume.
“Everything’s being torn down and rebuilt by developers,” he said. “Adding a pool is usually part of those renovations.”
Clean-line pools are the rage at the moment. Rectangular and minimalist, they pair well with the Cape Cods and modern farmhouses popping up across the city.
Don’t forget the spas; at this point, Barash estimates that 90% of pools include a hot tub.
When consulting with families, he said that few view a pool as an investment opportunity. Overwhelmingly, his clients are parents hoping a cool backyard will be a catalyst for keeping their kids at home. If it nets a few more offers when they sell down the road, all the better.