by Mark Garcia July 30, 2016
Staging a home is often talked about as a great strategy when selling your home. To make your home your very best, you clean and paint, de-clutter and de-decorate with an artist's flair. If the home also has a pool, staging a pool for the home sale just makes sense. Staging a pool is not difficult, but it requires that you take off your pool owner goggles, because you've grown accustomed to a lot over the years, and accepted little deficiencies that should now be addressed. To get the largest ROI, you've got to stage your pool for listing photos, walkthrough traffic and open houses.
Here's 10 tips to get a pool ready before listing your home on the realty market.
Start staging your pool by trimming back any overhanging branches or cutting back or removing bushes that have overgrown into the pool equipment pad area. Then sweep, hose or blow all debris from the pad, and rake up around the pad. Spray weed killer around the equipment pad to improve air flow and drainage, and for a neat appearance. Inspect the path to the equipment pad, and consider any quick improvements to appearance or safety. If your equipment sits in a gravel area, bring in enough new gravel to cover the area an inch deep, after cleaning out leaves and twigs.
Literally scrub the equipment clean. Put on the gloves and scrub the filter tank with an abrasive chlorine cleanser like Ajax or Comet, and hose it off. Stainless steel tanks can be polished with metal cleaners. Plastic pumps, valves and chlorinators can also be scrubbed clean (outside only please) with a cleanser and some elbow grease. The chlorinated abrasive cleansers will bleach the white PVC pipes to a former shade of white, and also help clean up stained concrete underneath the pump and filter. Pool heaters can be cleaned, but better to clean out the inside of the heater, sweeping it out and removing any cobwebs.
Small stuff, like a shiny new $9 pressure gauge, or a pump basket without a crack in it and the handle missing. How about a new label for the multiport backwash valve, or a replacement handle / knob for your Jandy valve. You've gone blind to all of these little less than perfect things, but a pool inspector, agent or prospective buyer will take notice, either consciously, or sub-consciously. Make your pool look like it has been well maintained by replacing any worn missing or broken parts. Larger stuff too, like removing defective pool heaters, broken-down solar reels, or having loud pump motors rebuilt so they run smooth and quiet during home showings, can be pool staging money well spent. Other easy to replace pool parts include skimmer weirs, baskets and lids, ladder and rail parts, and the old backwash hose. Replace your worn out pool cleaning tools and poles. Leaky o-rings and gaskets on the equipment pad should also be repaired, so everything looks dry, as a leaking pool is one of the largest 'pool phobias' for prospective buyers. Inspect the pool cleaner also for wearable items that are in need of replacement and do them now. This gives the appearance that the pool has been maintained at the highest level.
Another one of those things that we go blind to around our own pool, but that can make the whole pool equipment pad look scary and uninviting. Leaning or wobbly electrical posts is the most common thing, these can be straightened. Old and cracked flexible conduit should also be replaced, or repaired if possible. Open up the timeclock and breaker box, Is the breaker panel loose and is the timeclock missing the plastic protective wire cover? How about the electrical outlet or any light switches, does everything look tight and safe? If the standing area in front of the electrical boxes is wet and muddy, consider dropping 50 lbs of gravel or placing large pavers over gravel. In the pool, be sure that the pool lights fit snugly into the niche, and aren't a little off-kilter or loose.
When staging a pool, the pool deck appearance is very important! Pressure washing the deck, followed by a light 10:1 Water/Bleach solution, is my favorite way to clean a pool deck with some mildew problems. To add a deep sheen to pool decks and cover up shading inconsistencies, consider adding pool deck sealer to the deck after cleaning. As you clean the deck, take note of any cracks or spalling areas, or problem drainage areas. Unless you can hide the corner where the water tends to 'pool' into a puddle - you may be able to correct it. Drainage channels or holes can be added, or if soils have slipped and built up in the area, they can be removed. Sometimes it's a clogged drain or a slipped concrete pad, but there's almost always an easy solution to deck drainage problems and the resultant mildew growth.
Pool maintenance is a major concern for home buyers, so It goes without saying that you want your pool to be as spotless as possible while the home is on the market. But in addition to leaf and bug removal, you also want the surface to look as spot-less as possible too. Check closely for stains in the pool that can be removed with a stain sock or a stain master tool. Plaster pools can be acid washed to strip away a thin layer of plaster and expose un-stained surfaces beneath. How's the tile and coping look? Most pool coping stones can also be acid washed lightly or bleached to clean. Tiles with calcium deposits, aka efflorescence, can be cleaned with a screwdriver and some elbow grease and finished with acid and a wire brush. Severe cases of crusty white tile deposits may wish to contract with a bead blasting service, or try a careful pressure washing. Finally, look outside of the pool to the ladders, diving board, fence, furniture - and get started cleaning and polishing!
An often overlooked detail, but a freshly caulked pool looks much more solid and well cared for than one a pool with deteriorated or missing pool caulking. If you're wondering "what is pool caulking", it's the strip of rubbery sealant between the pool deck and the back of the coping stones around the pool edge. Not every pool deck style will have a caulked expansion joint around the pool, but if your pool does, it may be a worthwhile investment of a few hundred dollars for pool caulk and a DIY weekend, to caulk your pool, or pay a pool caulking company around $7 per linear foot to do it for you.
Begin by fertilizing your plants around the pool, being very careful not to get any fertilizer in the pool - and don't fertilize any planters that have any chance of overflowing into the pool during heavy rains. Water your plants for a several weeks and then prune and style your fresh growth. When staging your pool for a home sale, take an objective view of your entire landscaping around the pool, and decide if you want to do anything different. Consider replacing a few overgrown or less than attractive plants or bushes, and trimming back heavy tree growth to allow more sun and reduce leaf litter in the pool area. Adding colorful flowers in several locations around the pool is a popular pool staging detail.
Like the smell of fresh cookies in the kitchen, stage the pool with blue pool dye to give a deep, almost midnight blue color to pool water. Pool Party Blue Pool Dye is normally used for parties (also available in Green and Red), but it can also be used for open houses. 1 bottle treats the average pool 2-3 times, and it lasts for 2-3 days before being filtered out of the water. Copper pool algaecide will also give the pool a nice deep blue color, although it lasts only a few hours, and overuse can lead to pool staining.
If you can swing it, drop $1000 on a colorful new patio furniture set, which you can take with you when you move on, or you can offer it to the buyers, for say, $1200. I'm kidding! Other ways to add color around the pool include pool umbrellas or shade sails, a new coat of paint on the back fence, and oversized planter pots brimming with blooming plants and tropicals. If you're invested in cool backyard lighting, be sure to optimize the lighting and have a few photos taken at night with the lights on, since most buyers will view your home only during the day.
Bonus Tip: Be sure that your pool fence and gates are up to current code. There should be no missing slats or large gaps under the fence. Correct any leaning or deteriorated fence sections. And most importantly, the pool fence gate should be self-closing and self-latching. Over time, most pool gates need adjustments to maintain safety. Check that your fences close and latch by themselves, and if they don't often just a small adjustment of the hinges and/or latch, or adding a spring, can correct the situation. Pool safety is often one of the largest concerns for buyers looking at homes with pools.
Thanks for Reading!