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Should You Buy a Home With a Swimming Pool?

June 4, 2014 |  Article By : 

pool 4c pictureAccording to the The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals, the number of new in-ground pools in the U.S. grew by 10% from 2002 to 2005, and some 4.7 million U.S. homes have in-ground pools.

Studies show that most low-end and many middle-range buyers do not want a home with a pool. Higher-end homes are more likely to have pools, but some are never used. Some pools exist for decoration. If you enjoy swimming, then a pool might be right for you. But wisdom says buy a home with a pool only if you will use it. Otherwise, your sparkling pool could turn into an expensive pond for ducks.

Types of Swimming Pools

If you’re planning to install a swimming pool, hire a reputable pool contractor. The cost for a new pool starts around $30,000, but can easily soar past six figures, depending on desired amenities such as fountains, landscaping or decking.

Gunite Pools

Gunite pool construction, which is achieved by spraying a mixture of concrete and sand into a pool-sized hole, is the most popular. Unlike above-ground pools, which are temporary, these in-ground pools are permanent structures. Gunite pools can be laid out in almost any shape the home owner desires and last for years. But gunite is pricey.

Vinyl Pools

Vinyl in-ground pools are generally rectangular, but other configurations are available. They are less expensive than gunite because the pools are lined with vinyl; however, the liners often need replacement after 10 years. They are popular in areas where temperatures dip below freezing and the pools are drained in the winter. To prepare for a vinyl pool, the ground is excavated and support walls are constructed from a variety of materials such as wood, steel, fiberglass or aluminum.

Above-Ground Pools

The National Association of Realtors says above-ground pools add no value to the home because they are portable. Above-ground is an inexpensive option for a pool. Some home owners buy do-it-yourself kits and assemble their own above-ground pools. Unlike in-ground pools, which can require weeks to complete, these pools can be installed in a few days.

The Advantages of Owning a Home With a Pool

  • Many people believe pools increase the aesthetic value of their yard.
  • People who host a lot of parties utilize their pools as an entertainment center, and kids love pools.
  • Pools provide an easy way to instantly cool down on hot days.
  • Some people use swimming pools exclusively for in-water exercises and say pools add health benefits for them.
  • Swimming pools can bring added value at resale, especially in hot climates.

The Disadvantages of Owning a Home With a Pool

  • Regular maintenance. Pools require chemicals, cleaning and over time, repair.
  • Children can drown. Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death among children ages 1 to 4, says Safekids.
  • Pool homes appeal to fewer buyers.
  • Pools consume valuable yard space, and in a small yard, they can overwhelm.
  • It might cost more to insure a home with a pool, and heating it can drive up utility bills.

Do Pools Add or Detract From the Value of a Home?

Whether a pool adds value to a home depends on where you live. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the three most popular states for pool homes are California, Arizona and Florida. The National Association of Realtors says an in-ground pool adds about 7.7% more in value to the home’s market value. However, in colder climates, such as Minnesota, a pool may add no value at all.

How Much Does it Cost to Maintain a Swimming Pool?

To maintain a swimming pool in the Twin Cities Metro area varies. The cost ranges from $150 to $729, with the average reported cost of $478 per season. This cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by HomeAdvisor members. While a swimming pool adds many years of fun and exercise to your home life, it needs to be maintained correctly and consistently.


You can manage the heating cost for your pool by not heating it year-round. If you only use your pool for entertainment, you are most likely not going to have pool parties in the dead of winter. If you use it for exercise, you may find times of year where you will be engaging in other types of workouts and not keep the pool heated.


A professional pool cleaner is a great idea if you can afford one. If you can’t, the best cleaning maintenance is to remove leaves, dirt and debris on the surface. Skimming off the debris on a daily basis will keep your pool from needing deeper cleaning and vacuuming as often. It is much simpler to clean the top than it is to vacuum rotten decomposed leaves off the bottom.

Chemical testing

A pool water test kit is an inexpensive way to test the pH of your swimming pool. If you have a pool maintenance pro who is doing regular, routine cleaning and maintenance of your pool, they will certainly be doing this testing for you as part of their services. However, if you want to save money you can do it yourself. It’s important to know the pH level so you don’t let it get too high or too low. On either end of the spectrum are undesirable results. The closer to zero the pH is, the more acidic the water is, causing the water to corrode the pipes and hurt your skin if you swim in it. If the pH is closer to 14, the water starts to cloud and render the chlorine ineffective. So make sure to keep the pH level balanced around seven, which means neutral.


The most common repairs needed for a swimming pool involve fixing the heating and filtration systems and cracks or other damages to the inside surface. If you have a concrete or tiled pool, the surface can get damaged and cracked. If you have a pool liner, the liner can get torn or ripped due to wear and tear or abuse by kids, pets and pool toys. Repairing a pool liner is not an expensive venture, but replacing a liner can be. Monitor the amount of rough play that goes on in your swimming pool so you can avoid this expensive replacement.


By Elizabeth Weintraub and Homeadvisors.com

Truth in Sale of Housing

May 14, 2014 |  Article By : 

home inspc2What are Truth in Sale of Housing (TISH) inspections? Why are they required? What cities require them? Who is required to do them? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, the following will help you to navigate the TISH world.

The Truth-in-Sale of Housing inspections provide accurate information on the condition of properties for sale and to help keep up the quality of housing available in certain cities. Truth in Sale of Housing or “Point of Sale” reports are valid for 1 to 2 years for each property, the length depends on each city. This inspection and a TISH certificate must be done before or within 3 days of listing a property for sale. Properties that need TISH inspections include the following:

Types of Residences:                             

Single family homes



First time condo conversions

Types of Sales 

Sale by owner or real estate agent

Real estate agent assisted sale

Contract for deed

Other title transfers

TISH evaluations and reports cover certain items and identifies required repairs. A copy of the evaluation report and the list of repair items must be displayed on the property so potential buyers can view it. Generally repairs must be made before a house is sold. Fees charged for this inspection vary by each city.

Metro area cities that require inspections are listed below. Contact each city to find out the specific requirements for that city. If your city is not listed, then a TISH evaluation is not required (as of today, May 12, 2014).

City – Website

Bloomington – Bloomington Time of Sale Inspection Program

Crystal – Crystal Housing Maintenance Compliance Inspection

Golden Valley – City of Golden Valley Point of Sale

Hopkins – City of Hopkins Truth in Housing

Maplewood – City of Maplewood Truth in Housing

Minneapolis – City of Minneapolis Truth in Housing

New Hope – City of New Hope Point of Sale

Osseo – City of Osseo Truth in Housing

Richfield – City of Richfield Point of Sale Inspection

Robbinsdale – City of Robbinsdale Point of Sale

St Louis Park – St Louis Park Point of Sale

St Paul – City of St Paul Truth in Housing

South St Paul – South St Paul Time of Sale Inspections

Reality TV Comes to Minnesota

April 21, 2014 |  Article By : 

myfirsthome_badge_160x120Have you ever wondered what it is like to be in a reality TV show?  My clients, Kyle and Tasha Johnson and sister Shayna Simmons and I had that opportunity on the cable television network TLC’s show My First Home!  This 30-minute show follows potential home buyers through the emotional highs and lows of trying to buy their first home.  What was the experience like?   In the TV and movie business you really do hurry up and wait while the crew sets up the cameras and lights.  The “stars” are responsible for several changes of clothes during filming every day.  The episode called “Three’s A Crowd?” will be broadcast May 3rd at 12:30 p.m. Pacific time on TLC.  Tune in to find out more about the show, contact me for more answers to your questions, watch a sneak peek at goo.gl/uHhyby, or better yet attend the Minnesota premier of the event on May 10th.  Contact me for event information.

Moving and Storage on the Cheap

April 8, 2014 |  Article By : 

Think cheap moving involve bribery with pizza and beer? You’re not alone. Amy Stafford used this formula for several apartment moves off-campus during college and early in her working career. Only when Amy’s inexpensive “freelance” movers “accidentally” kept several boxes of her stuff — and disappeared — did Amy realize she didn’t know the first thing about moving safely on movng boxesthe cheap.

We’ve talked with experts to find out the best tips for moving safely — and cheaply. If only Amy had known.

Cheap Moving: Plan Ahead
A last-minute move will cost you in more ways than one. Start your planning as early as possible to reduce costs and headaches. With advance notice, you’ll have a better chance of enlisting the free-to-cheap assistance of family and friends, as well as time to source free moving items (such as boxes) from your local store. Planning your move in advance also gives you time to sell unnecessary items. Selling items can raise additional funds to cover moving costs.

Reduce, Reduce, Reduce
Before any move, carefully evaluate all of your possessions to determine which items must go with you and which items can be put in storage, sold or, even better, donated to others. This task may seem monumental until you consider the fiscal benefits of reducing the items that you’re moving. Keep in mind that fewer items means less to box (saving you time), less to transport (saving you fuel), and less to manage (saving your sanity). Donate excess items to civic or charitable organizations, or friends and family. Don’t fill the landfill with usable items.

Move Yourself or Pay Wisely
The cheapest way to move anywhere is to move yourself. Hands down it is the most cost-effective if you aren’t moving large furniture. Moving yourself is not less expensive if you’ll spend more time than necessary carting things up and down stairs (especially if you’ll miss work to do it). If you value your time, hire help.

Hiring movers or Man With a Van-type hired brawn can be cost effective. While friends and family might accept beer and pizza as payment, most movers — even independent ones — will request cold, hard cash.  But get recommendations to avoid movers who help themselves to your possessions with a five-finger discount. Determine costs up-front, but pay after your items are moved. Tip generously.

Moving and Storage
Self-moving, or ‘container moving’ is a growing trend.  You rent a container  (pod) and fill it yourself or hire labor to fill it.  A company then moves the container for you. You can unload it yourself or hire help on the other end.  A container move can happen locally or interstate.  Using a pod or container can save between 30 to 40 percent compared to the cost of traditional moving vans and movers. It may also be the best of both worlds when it comes to economy versus hired movers.

Rent the Smallest Moving Van
Aren’t ready to use a container? Reserve the smallest moving van early because the smaller, and cheaper, moving vans tend to be booked first. If you are unsure about the size you’ll need, estimate it by the number of rooms (kitchen, living room, bedrooms) of stuff that you’ll be moving. Moving companies have size estimates that are quite helpful.

Trade Services
If you need help moving, another way to reduce costs is to trade skills or services. If you have a friend or family member willing to help you move, you can trade your professional know-how or other skill in return. Write up a simple agreement that outlines what you’ll offer in exchange for moving help. Be sure to include the time frame for delivery and what constitutes a finished project — to ensure that both parties are happy with the arrangement and consider it a fair trade. You may find that the skills you use every day might also help you pay for your move.
When it comes to moving on the cheap, weigh your options carefully. A complete do-it-yourself move can save money but cost valuable time. Movers can be extremely helpful, or, as Amy discovered the hard way, thieves in disguise. If you hire movers, pay for professionals and get references. Consider “container moving” as a method that gives you the best budget-friendly options while also using the services of professionals.


By Katie McCaskey, AOL Real Estate