Monthly Archives: December 2013

Does a Swimming Pool ADD Value to a Home?

Does a Swimming Pool ADD Value to a Home?

I’ve been asked “how much value does a swimming pool really add to your home?” many, many times, and my answer always is … it depends.

If you’re thinking of adding an in-ground pool or buying a home with an in-ground pool you’ve probably heard that tired old saw that a pool adds $10-15k value to a home and limits the buyer pool for your home when you go to sell it. While true as a sweeping generality, there’s more to this topic than meets the eye.

 

high-end-poolNobody will argue that the swimming pool in the photo shown to the left will add considerable value to the home it accompanies. The reason is that it speaks to art and craftsmanship and quality … three important considerations for a pool or for that matter any addition or expensive home improvement. The design marries absolute unity with absolute variety and will be almost universally considered beautiful by most who encounter it. The scale also suggests that it is attached to a larger home on a larger piece of land … the other two key considerations when discussing similar improvements and their value.

Now most pools look like the one showninexpensive pool to the right. They are pretty ordinary, well-done, and cost somewhere in the under $50k range depending on it’s liner (plaster or vinyl). Included is a small hardscape area, cast concrete, pavers or exposed-aggregate concrete, and fenced enclosure around the pool area or the yard, depending on the local building codes. This is your classic in-ground pool and this one does add the $10-15k that any realtor will tell you. If you look at this picture you will see it is located in a fairly good sized yard, so it’s value would be in the upper end of the range. If it were on a small lot and took up most of the back yard it’s value would be in the lower end of the range.

mid-range-poolThe pool shown to the right is one that while costing in the $50-150k range will not add it’s full cost to the value of the home will add significantly more than the $10-15k typically bandied about. The natural stone hard-scape and the addition of an integrated hot-tub and gas-fired outdoor fireplace are desirable features that add value individually and add more combined value when integrated into a unified design. Again, as you can see, the pool is a small part of a larger yard and suggests it’s attached to a larger home with superior fit and finish.

Okay, so how can one determine what a pool adds in value.

For this exercise I took the price per square foot for homes sold in the last six months for million dollar properties in the inner suburbs of metrowest Boston.  If you compare the price per square foot across the six selected towns you will see that there is a significant increase in the price per square foot in the selling price of homes sold with pools. You will also see that the overall increase for all the towns is pretty constant. So, as you can probably imagine, for these towns, pools that have a high degree of fit and finish and are in not outsized in proportion to their lot size add about 11% to the value.Pool-Charts-PSF

Then if we take the number of homes sold with pools and compare them to the total market for their towns, we see a strong desire for them in some towns, in other towns not so much. For example, in Lincoln homes with pools represented almost half of the market, Weston homes with pools represented about a quarter of the market,  while in Lexington they represented only about 10% of their market. So it could be figured that putting a pool in Lincoln or Weston is a much better investment than putting one in Lexington.Market-Share-pools

So as you can see, the real answer to the question is determined by two things: 1. how nice the pool is and 2. is it considered a valuable feature in the town where it is located.

Should you have questions about a specific application and location feel free to give me a call, I will be glad to help you out. Call or text 978-580-1069.

Will we have Spring Flooding this year?

Will we have Spring Flooding this year?

If you’ve driven east on Route 20 lately you’ve seen as I have that the watershed around the Sudbury river is back to it’s normal depth despite the dry Summer we’ve just had. Every year we wonder will it be inundated with water and the water level cross the road height as it does occasionally in Spring. Where does all this water come from and where does it go?

In very general, simple terms … the majority of surface water travels from west to east along the Hop Brook and it’s watershed (the blue areas on the map on the left side above route 20). It crosses route 20 near Lotus Blossom Restaurant and then travels northeast to the Sudbury River watershed, or as the native Algonquin called it, the Musketaquid. It then crosses route 20 near the Wayland town line, and travels north (the blue area along the right side of the map) and finally  joins with the Asabet River at Egg Rock in Concord to form the Concord River.

A great description of the Hop Brook watershed can be found at this link on the town website.
The Commonwealth is in the process of re-doing the flood maps for Sudbury, with the estimated completion date being summer of 2014. The town of Sudbury Engineering Department is reviewing the new maps right now and at the Annual Town Meeting we will all be voting to accept (or not) the new maps. If the motion is denied it may affect our ability to get flood insurance if we need it. In the mean time if you are wondering about flood zones and how they might impact your property or one you’re considering purchasing, your best resource is your homeowner’s insurance professional.

Buying Through the Listing Agent … Get a Better Deal?

Buying Through the Listing Agent … Get a Better Deal?

Do you really get a better deal if you’re buying from the listing agent?

As a Realtor I work with either sellers or buyers but almost never both in the same transaction.  One Real Estate “Urban Legend” that comes up fairly regularly is that it is better for you to buy a house directly from the listing agent. The belief is that you will either get a better deal on the price or actually get a reimbursement or kickback from the agent because they are getting “both sides” of the deal.

As a consumer, you have a right (and in my opinion a real need) to representation … here’s what happens when you work only with the listing agent. The Consumer Protection Act and the Licensing laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts require that an agent representing two clients in the same transaction must work as a disclosed dual agent.  According to 254 CMR 3.00, “a dual agent will not have the ability to satisfy fully the duties of loyalty, full disclosure, reasonable care and obedience to lawful instructions, but shall still owe the duty of confidentiality of material information and the duty to account for funds”.  There is a consent form that you both must sign and “the consent form must also state that a dual agent assists the seller and buyer in a transaction but shall be neutral with regard to any conflicting interest of the seller and buyer.”

So one party (the Seller who has a signed representation contract) gets an agent who is “providing less than full representation”, while the other (you) gets an agent who is “providing less than full  representation”. Why on earth would you want an agent working for you who can only  unlock a door and write an offer, they can’t advise you on what price or terms to offer, can’t provide you with “comps” to ensure you don’t overpay, can’t recommend inspectors or attorneys, can’t advise you about inspection issue negotiations, and aren’t able to tell you about any location issues or defects in the house? It just doesn’t make sense.

Here’s why buyers need representation, preferably by an Accredited Buyer Representative, ABR …  shameless plug for myself

1.    A listing agent works for the seller
2.    The listing agent’s biggest responsibility is to get the most money and best terms for the seller
3.    Despite rumors, I have NEVER heard of a verified situation where the buyer got a kickback from the listing agent
4.    If you think you’ll get “inside info”, i.e.  what the sellers want in price or conditions so that they’ll accept your offer over others’, you can ask, but they won’t tell you. The listing agent is only ALLOWED BY LAW to share their client’s confidential information with you it the seller gives them permission (I’d want to see it in writing) and can lose their license if he/she does without permission.
5.    During the inspection, how objective will your (oops, I mean the seller’s) agent be?
6.    The listing agent has a vested interest in your buying THIS house and will not encourage you to look at similar ones of better value, condition, or location.
7.   The Listing agent is not obligated to inform you of any traffic or environmental conditions or smell/noise/light pollution from nearby locations that might be part of the reason their sellers are moving.

A buyer agent (ABR) is the only person in your house search and offer process looking out only for YOU.  They are your advocate in a major and life-affecting purchase.  Using a Buyer Agent costs you no money, and may even help you save money in the initial negotiation and by using inspection issues to re-negotiate.

How about if I say it another way: Would you want to go to a court trial having the Prosecutor do double duty as your defense lawyer?

Absurd and ridiculous?

It’s like asking do you really get a better deal if you’re buying from the listing agent?

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