10 reasons NOT to put a pool in your front yard

Let me give you a bit of free real estate advice. Don’t put a built-in swimming pool in your front yard. I know that sounds silly, but since I had the privilege of walking through a house with a front yard pool last week, I wanted to bring it up. Enjoy a one-minute video tour and then I’ll give you some reasons NOT to install a pool in the front yard – some more serious than others. Watch below (or here).

10 reasons NOT to install a pool in your front yard:

  1. Buyers don’t want pools in the front yard.
  2. There is more privacy in the backyard.
  3. Your house may actually sell for less because of a front yard pool.
  4. Avoid perverts looking through holes in the front fence to check you out.
  5. It’s awkward to try to avoid drowning while walking to the front door.
  6. When people ring the doorbell you can’t pretend like you didn’t hear them like you can when swimming in the backyard.
  7. Skinny dipping seems much more risky in the front yard.
  8. A pool next to a sidewalk begs teens to throw stuff over the fence into the water.
  9. It’s a bad sign when buyers say, “what the heck were they thinking?”
  10. A front yard pool is really not a common feature. Spend time using Google Maps satellite view and I bet you’ll find it very difficult to find many front yard pools.

Now here are some pictures to help create a little more context. You would never know by looking at the home that there is a pool just steps away in the front yard. Obviously this pool needs some repairs, so it’ll be interesting to see if the buyer fills it in or repairs it.

front of house with pool in front yard - sacramento appraisal blog

front view number three with pool in front yard - sacramento appraisal blog

view from bedroom with pool in front yard - sacramento appraisal blog

view from front door with pool in front yard - sacramento appraisal blog

You may also enjoy 10 signs your pool is too big for the neighborhood or How much is a pool worth in the eyes of an appraiser?

Question: Anything you’d add to the list? What is #11?

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  1. says

    Oh ma gaw – no way! Great video. I have never seen this before. I think I may have seen a spa in the front area, but I’m not out in the field like you and Steve are, so my views are limited. ~ So is this area all gated off? How bizarre. No truer words written in real estate, you never want to hear, “what the heck were they thinking?” This definitely a product of not consulting anyone before executing an idea.

    • says

      Thanks Heather. Yes, it is gated off with a fence in the front. I agree the owner really should have consulted someone. One of the other downfalls is having visitors. The front gate would have to be locked to promote safety, so it would be hard to see who is knocking at the door (unless there is a security camera).

    • Andrea Hoffman says

      Call me crazy but, I love pools in the front. Though I read the 10reasons why it’s not a good idea and they are true.I just like it because it’s unique and hardly done.I love pools.

  2. ricardo says

    The house you show reminds me a of the dwellings you see in Italy, north Africa, and Mexico. From the street all you see is a wall with a large gate or door. This discloses an atrium (court)surrounded by rooms shaded by a walkway. If you continue through a breezeway, another court will be found. These enclosed courts often have fruit trees, fountains, and a little pool. This layout goes back to ancient Rome.

    Of course the house in the photo you sent has far too large a pool . In some ways much of our contemporary suburban design seems limited to a miniature of the farm.

    • says

      Interesting commentary, Ricardo. I am a big fan of the court concept, though I do like some sort of open space also to easily interact with neighbors (like a large porch). The court could certainly provide that also, but if the walls are more than a few feet tall, you won’t be able to see neighbors.

      • ricardo says

        Good point about neighbor interaction. I’ve read that in the South neighbors used to porch visit in the evenings — lemonaide and such. Now no more. The reasons proposed range from air conditioning to an alienated, more mobile society. But I am with you on the value of knowing neighbors. We know ours and have fun as well as watching each others’ backs.

        • says

          Thanks Ricardo. It’s a dangerous thing when neighbors stop talking to each other. That’s why I really appreciate traditional neighborhood design to help foster communication. When every house is gated off, there is no reason to go outside or even talk to neighbors. Over time that can really cripple a community though. Air conditioning and television are part of the problem, but I think isolation in general has become a cultural normal. That’s no bueno.

          For any onlookers: In case it might be helpful, I wrote a series called “Community Building 101? a few years ago. If you are tinkering with the idea of how to begin to improve your neighborhood, this short mini-essay series might be relevant. http://sacramentoappraisalblog.com/Community-Building-101.pdf (pdf).

  3. Alyssa says

    Hey Ryan,

    What brought you out to this property? Were you appraising it? How did the front yard pool affect the value of the house?

    • says

      Alyssa, I was appraising a different house in the neighborhood and I called the agent to ask if I could enter. I saw the comment in MLS about there being a pool in the front yard, so I had to take a look for myself. I’ll definitely keep close watch on this one and keep it in my file for an example of a property with an odd feature. It’s always good to have data points for interesting properties because I may use the data in a future report. Thanks for the comment.

      • Alyssa says

        I was curious because I’m working for an investor looking at buying it. He’s thinking he’s gonna have to fill it in. When I saw the email I knew it looked familiar, I had seen it on your blog!

        • says

          Wow, small world. I know another Realtor who toured the property and the investor passed on it. It’s definitely an odd feature, but if the investor could find a buyer before the rehab, that would be great. It’s hard to say what is going to cost more – whether pool repairs or filling it in (though my guess is the pool repairs). An attractive front yard would probably help the property compete better with other flips in the neighborhood. It’s too bad to have to fill in a pool though…

  4. cindy says

    I actually just bought a house with a pool in the front yard. It’s over to the side of the front door, so it’s sort of in the front ‘side’ yard…but definitely in the front. The reason for this is….you won’t believe it….but it’s true…. is that a well known actor lived in this house in the early 90’s (his production company rented out the house), and he had the pool put in. Well, it’s a big pool, but I want to keep it for the time being since I have kids who would love to swim. After they’re grown, perhaps I’ll have it filled in. In the meantime, my big question is…..DO I PUT UP A PRIVACY FENCE THAT COMPLETELY HIDES IT or do I put up a shorter fence that completely shows it? It currently has an older wooden picket fence that needs to be replaced. HELP!!!

    • says

      Hi Cindy. Thanks for stopping by. First off, an actor from the 90s? My imagination is going to go with Chuck Norris, Fred Savage, Joey Lawrence, or John Stamos. 🙂 Kidding aside, I think you’re smart to keep the pool for your kids. If you are going to use it, enjoy it to the max. A front yard pool could hinder marketability for certain buyers in the future, but you’re not selling, so it’s a non-issue right now. Of course I wouldn’t assume there is automatically a marketability problem without knowing your area.

      Honestly, I think it’s a personal call for you on what to do about the fence. You’ll have to consider what is going to boost curb appeal as well as what is going to meet your needs for privacy. The benefit of a large front yard fence is that you add to your privacy, yet the downfall is that it can potentially isolate neighbors and send a 6 ft high message to “stay out”. One of the biggest issues our society faces is the reality of a lack of community in neighborhoods, and building physical and relational fences can add to the issue. From a value perspective, I don’t know that it makes much of a difference at all. You can probably find something attractive either way too. It all comes down to what it looks like and how it blends into the neighborhood. Just find a way to make it look nice and add to the overall look of the community, and I bet it will be appreciated by all neighbors – whether 3 or 6 ft. One last thing I would mention is that neighbors know it is there, so it’s not like you need to hide it. If it has been visible in the past, there is no harm in keeping it visible in the future. You can always float what you’re thinking to neighbors to see what they think too. I know you’ll make a great choice. I wish you the best!!

  5. cindy says

    Thank you for your quick rsponse! You must be a genius, because the actor is one of the ones you mentioned. I’ve got some landscaping people coming to do a design, so I’ll play around with both fence height ideas. Since you’re an appraiser, one more question…..the house is 4 bedrooms. We were considering taking the 4th bedroom and using some of that space to enlarge the master bath. My question is….which is usually a better choice: keeping a true 4 bedroom, or having a 3 bedroom with dedicated office and awesome master bath?

    • says

      No problem at all. That is so funny about guessing the actor.

      Regarding downsizing from four bedrooms to three bedrooms, my personal take is that it’s better to have four bedrooms instead of three. I’m not a huge fan of downsizing. If there is a way to make the master bathroom amazing while keeping all rooms intact, that would be great. I suppose if you only encroach on the 4th bedroom a bit, and the 4th bedroom is still useable, then it’s likely okay since that 4th bedroom would probably be used as an office or kid’s bedroom anyway. Before you do something, I strongly recommend reaching out to a local Realtor and a local appraiser. Describe what you plan to do, and ask them if that is a good idea or not from a resale perspective. People who know your market well tend to be in tune with what buyers are looking for in the neighborhood, whereas I’m a guy located in a different community. Best wishes!!

  6. Michelle says

    We are thinking of a front yard pool for a few reasons. We have over three acres, our front yard is much larger than the back, as much of the back is jungle. We have horrible neighbors that turned a beautiful 3 story tropical home into a mini farm and have geese and ducks in the front, chickens,goats and barking dogs in the back. They are nasty people and I would love a high fence or wall to never see them again! Also this would give us views of the lake in our front yard. We have trees and a canal on the other side. This is the furthest we can get away from them, the noise and the smell! Also I’m a firm believer in a house should be what I want to live in, not what someone may buy 20 years from now!

    • says

      Hi Michelle. Thanks for sharing your story. I’m so sorry to hear about your situation. What a drag (I know that is an understatement). I hope things improve, and I hope your front yard pool helps give you peace of mind and some relaxation with your family. Life is about way more than market value. That’s the truth. Best wishes.

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