Bridging the Gap Between Pros and Realtors

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It's no secret that many real estate agents are reluctant to sell homes with pools. Pools, especially those in poor condition, come with a host of unknowns like safety, required upgrades and more, all of which are top concerns among potential buyers. Without an even rudimentary knowledge of swimming pools, realtors have found it's easier to skirt the pool part of the equation entirely.

That unfortunate reality prompted Nicole and Sean Ruble, owners of Chicagoland builder and service firm JFY Pools, to mount a promotion and information campaign this past spring targeting local realtors. The Rubles used direct mail, social media and email to send out informational pieces about pools and how to work with them as part of the sales process.

"We've been thinking about this for the last two years, but what really pushed us was this past winter we were looking online at homes for sale that have pools. There was one realtor that had this montage of pictures of this dirty, awful looking pool," Nicole Ruble recalls. "I thought that they would probably sell that house much quicker if they simply cleaned it up."

For his part, Sean Ruble says he wanted to educate realtors because he was tired of being the bearer of bad news about pool problems for buyers after the fact. "It's amazing the pain and agony that could be avoided if people just knew a little bit about what to look for, and who to call if they think they see some kind of problem," he says.

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"For years we've seen what happens when someone buys a house with a pool and it hasn't been inspected or even serviced. Or they pull the cover off and find all these problems, and in some cases, they're faced with a major expense to get the pool back in good operating condition," Nicole says. "We decided to try to get ahead of that problem by reaching out to realtors and giving them a little bit of education about the value of a pool and the importance of addressing issues as part of the selling process, the way you might look at a roof or a septic system. We've found that many realtors simply shy away from pools because they just don't know much about them."

The response, she reports, has been fantastic. "We've had a number of realtors get in touch with us and we've met with several in person," she says. "Some have told us that now that they understand pools better, they are more prepared to discuss them with buyers with more information and more confidence.

"We also have explained what agents should look for when working with buyers who might want to add a pool later on," she says. "That's something no one thinks much about, but explaining some of the particulars really makes a difference. If, for example, there's a septic drain field or utility lines cutting across the property, that's a huge problem for the homebuyer later on when they find out they can't install a pool."

The Rubles report the campaign has resulted in some service and repair work, and they acknowledge building relationships and trust will take time. "We're very excited to keep it up and see what happens over the long run. Right now, we're satisfied that we're helping realtors and their clients make more informed decisions."

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