Why Pool Industry Pros Should Make Inroads with Realtors

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Other than the weather, the economy and the housing market have the greatest external impact on the pool and spa industry. As property values rise and equity accumulates, so do sales of the industry’s products and services. When prices retreat, pool and spa sales inevitably decline, as we experienced in dramatic fashion during the last recession.

But there’s more to it than that. Pools and spas are not just influenced by home sales and prices, they are integral parts of those self-same real estate transactions. In fact, it’s fair to say that pools and spas are an important part of the real estate industry, whether we choose to look at it that way or not.

Through a series of articles in AQUA this year, we’ve shown how important it is to work directly with realtors and understand the real estate value pools represent in a given geographical market.

Back in January, we started the conversation with a look at pool professionals such as Nashville-based Dennis Boyd, who conduct inspections for realtors as part of home sales transactions, usually on behalf of the buyer.

RELATED: Real Estate Pool Inspections

He explained that he took on inspections because he saw an obvious need in his market. Unbeknownst to him, that move would result in a whole new career path.

“I targeted the real estate industry because I had so many inquiries from people wanting to know what they were buying,” he said. “I started out just wanting to be able to do inspections as needed. Since I started doing it, my inspection business has blossomed.”

Boyd and fellow inspector, Phoenix-based Tom Krause, explained that not only do they have extensive industry experience working directly with pool and spa systems, a prerequisite for pool/spa-inspection work, they also completed the NSPF (now part of the Pool Hot Tub Alliance) Certified Pool Inspector training.

Their experience, and that of others we’ve talked to since preparing that first article, point to what appears to be a largely unfilled role in home inspections. That void ultimately represents a great opportunity, particularly for service technicians and builders looking to expand their revenue streams or move into a completely different pool/spa-related business.

The other side of this win-win is that homeowners know what they’re buying and the possible expenses they will face down the line. Obviously, unanticipated expenses such as replacing busted equipment or correcting code and safety problems are no way to begin the experience of owning a home with a pool.

With all that in mind, it’s likely that the ranks of pool inspection specialists will continue to grow. One of the big challenges in that expansion is going to be establishing what constitutes an inspection; what’s the standard and professional expectation for how detailed a proper, and even legally defensible, inspection should be? That question remains largely unanswered and is the subject of ongoing debate.

DETECTION INSPECTION

We followed up the January story in March with “Leak Detection and Home Inspection,” a Q&A with Lance Anderson, president of Anderson Manufacturing, a leading supplier and technical innovator for the leak-detection industry. According to Anderson, leak detection in real estate transactions often plays a key role in identifying and preventing major problems for the home buyers.

RELATED: Leak Detection and Home Inspection

“It’s an important and unavoidable aspect of the inspection process,” he explained. “In many cases, the worst-case scenario for someone buying a home with a pool is a leak, and especially a leak that will require a major repair in order to get the pool operating properly. While other focuses of pool inspection are important, they may not have the immediate implications that an undiscovered or hidden leak will have.”

It’s interesting to note that in the context of home inspections, leak detection is a specialty within a specialty. In the event the pool inspection professional finds evidence of a leak, he or she will then call in a leak detection company. The same is true for other specialists such as structural engineers and electricians, who could be used to identify and pinpoint specific issues that seen first during the overall pool inspection.

As Anderson points out, leaks in particular have the potential to wreak havoc, creating a host of potentially expensive and even disastrous problems. Clearly, the wisdom of finding and correcting those as part of a home sale cannot be denied.

VALUE ADDED

We took the discussion in a different direction in our July issue with my column titled “Do Pools Add Real Estate Value?” It’s a question that has never been definitively answered, but a study by internet real-estate giant Redfin indicates that in the major markets it examined, pools do add value, albeit at very different rates.

RELATED: Do Pools Add Real Estate Value?

According to Redfin data analyst Dana Olsen, “In Los Angeles, homes with pools sell for an estimated $95,393 more than comparable homes without them, making it the metro where pools are most valuable. Austin, Texas, and Orange County, Calif., are next on the list, with a pool adding more than $50,000 to the value of a typical-sized home in those metros.”

There are two big takeaways from the Redfin study. First there needs to be more research, especially looking more closely at the types of pools that add value and the metrics on buyers who select homes with pools. As important, the already compelling data should be fodder for industry outreach to the real estate industry,
which includes many agents who reflexively take a jaundiced view of swimming pool/spa value.

OUTREACH EFFORT

Finally, our September issue featured a Spotlight article that briefly profiled the efforts of Nicole and Sean Ruble, owners of Chicagoland builder and service firm JFY Pools. The Rubles had grown tired of the disconnect between realtors and the pool/ spa industry and decided to do something about it.

RELATED: Bridging the Gap Between Pros and Realtors

“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 recalled. “I thought that they would probably sell that house much quicker if they simply cleaned it up.”

Based on that sensical reasoning, the Rubles have mounted a multimedia blitz on local real estate agents, providing them with information that supports the value of pools and offering their services to buyers in need. They also provide info about pool installations for those new homeowners looking to possibly install a pool in the future. As part of the outreach, they’ve met with numerous agents and although still in the first year of the campaign, they report that their efforts have gained widespread attention from the realtor community.

The Rubles have learned what others cited in these discussions have, as well, that there is only benefit from not only promoting pool/spa ownership to the real estate industry, but also offering valuable services that support the home buying, and selling process.

For my two cents, it only makes sense to support and participate in an industry that has always largely driven the prosperity in ours.

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