Blog : Pools

Woodstone Sells

Woodstone Sells

Woodstone, prior to last week, was a nice subdivision in Linn Township with mostly architecturally pleasing homes and a delightful little wildflower corridor. Prior to last week, the development was in decent shape, though it’s taken more than a decade to fill in the few existing homes that you see. Prior to last week, the top sale in the association was around $670k.  Then, last week, things changed.

I listed a home in Woodstone in June, and then I sold it last week. The price was $900,000, including an adjacent vacant lot that wasn’t included in my initial list price of $845k. For the sake of discussion, we’ll assume that lot was thrown in for consideration of $60k or so, leaving the home sale at $840k. This was fine for my seller, fine for the buyer, and fine for me.  Who won here? The market at Woodstone.

With construction prices ratcheting higher and higher, neighborhoods are having a hard time justifying the new built values. If you buy a lot for $50k in a neighborhood that traditionally sells for $325k, that’s fine. But if the new build costs you $400k, then you’re a fish out of water. Neighborhoods need new comps to prove that the increased building costs still allow a buyer margin. That’s exactly what Woodstone just did, and it did it in a big way.

Now consider the new math of Woodstone. Buy a lot for $80k or so. Build a 2500 square foot house for $500k or so. Be all in sub-$600k. Prior to last week, that still made sense. There was a tiny margin. But now? There’s proof that the market has some room to run, and if you build the right house and add a swimming pool, you, too might be able to sell north of $800k.

Speaking of swimming pools, the market loves them now. Craves them. Can’t live without them. If you’re building a new house on the lake or in the country and the market supports the extra investment, add a pool. You’ll thank me when it comes time to sell. Unless you don’t sell until such a time when the culture hates pools, then you can blame me.

Congratulations to the seller who was kind enough to let me represent their lovely property. And congratulations to everyone who lives in Woodstone, or who might one day live in Woodstone. The market just got a whole lot better. Address Thank You Cards to me, at my office address.

Swimming Pools

Swimming Pools

I’m old enough to remember when owning a swimming pool was a bad thing. It was a liability, that pool. If a seller had one, the Realtor would exclaim, what a fantastic pool! Then the Realtor would read the expression of the buyer, and if the expression soured and waxed puzzled, the Realtor would tell the buyer that the pool can easily be filled in stone and then what a fantastic patio you’d have!  This is how it all used to be. Pools looked cool in photographs but in person buyers tended to shy from them, worried about the insurance cost and the maintenance cost and the process of it all. This isn’t how it is today.

Today, buyers at Lake Geneva look for pools.  They crave pools. They love them dearly. In fact, I would have sold one of my large lakefront listing s several times over had it only possessed a pool. Pools are all the rage now, and if you have one, you’re in luck.  Not all pools are created equal, so if you have a liner pool with a wrinkled floor, people won’t love that. If you have a tiny kidney pool like you’re under a lanai in Naples, people won’t love that, either. But if that pool is large enough, without being too large, and the surrounding patio is high quality and your furniture is just so, then your pool is adding value to your home with every underwater sweep of the cleaning robot’s arm.

In this, there is danger. The real danger aside, there is danger in the way this pool can transform your weekend. Pools are great, but they can ruin you and your weekend. They can make your soft children softer, make your weekends less about a lake and more about a pool. They can change everything, and in that there is a warning to heed: Beware the pool, even the lakefront pool, for it can be an instrument for evil.

A dear friend of mine is building a pool at his lakefront home as we speak. This pool is nearly complete, nearly ready to be splashed through and cannonballed into. The anticipation is, at this point, nearly unbearable. The pool will be the focus of much love, of some frustration, of horror when the first dead chipmunk is found cramped into the filter. Nearby frogs will at first rejoice, then regret their decision to jump into that chemically bath. The children will frolic in the way that children can. All of this is fine, but vigilance is required if the pool is going to be merely an auxiliary feature and never take the place of the primary feature that is the 5400 acre pool in front of the new pool.

But how can we make sure this doesn’t happen, that we don’t soften up our soft children so much that they prefer the chlorinated comfort of a synthetic lake over the real thing? Well, I’m glad you asked. The first think we must do is initiate rules. Country clubs have rules, and if we’re making our lakeside lawn into a similar club then we must initiate and abide by our own set of parameters. First up, no swimming in the pool if the lake is reasonably calm, the sun reasonably high, and the water reasonably clear. I will allow pool swimming if the lake is turned up something fierce, like on a holiday weekend afternoon, but that’s it. Otherwise, if it’s sunny and the lake is ready, use the lake. The pool isn’t for those times.

The pool is for the month of May. For some of early June. The pool is for late September and October. The pool is for the time of year when the lake is not warm enough for comfortable swimming. This is why the pool exists. The pool is also for the aforementioned periods during the middle of summer when the lake is acting somewhat unruly. These are the only pool rules you need. Don’t use the pool when the lake is better. Don’t use the pool because it’s convenient. It’s also convenient to eat ice cream for lunch every day but even I don’t do that every day.   The pool will be easy, and it’ll be tempting, but why are we at the lake? Are we here to hide in the shade of a large umbrella while our kids tip toe around the shallow side of the pool with Spongebob floaties on? Or are we here to indulge in the lake, to dive from piers, to feel the rush and bask in the nature of it all? I’m not going to answer that question. I shouldn’t have to.