Get real about real estate: A swimming pool may not add value to a home

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Dear Michael: For this coming summer our kids are asking for an in-ground swimming pool. A few neighbors have them, but most nearby houses do not. It would cost at least $40,000. Do you think a swimming pool would be a good investment and add value to our home?

Answer: You would be lucky if the swimming pool adds as much value to your home as its cost. Unless, of course if you live in a hot climate such as Palm Springs/desert where most homes have swimming pools. My best advice is to tell your kids to make friends with neighborhood kids who have pools at their house. In fact, swimming pools can sometimes be a disadvantage when you sell your home. Several families with small children will refuse to purchase a house with a swimming pool because of drowning danger. Also, pools and their equipment can be very expensive to maintain especially with the current water cost. Building a pool should not be looked as an investment, but more as a benefit for your family to enjoy!

Dear Michael: My husband and I have decided to sell our home. How should we prepare our house for sale? We obviously want top dollars!

Answer: Your house needs to be in its best possible showing condition! You will need to make repairs to any major items which could deter buyers (such as replacing any broken windows, replacing a leaky roof or plumbing issues). Next, work on your home’s curb appeal. Make sure your landscape is lush. Mow the grass, clean up any debris and weed the garden beds. Plant flowers near the entrance or in pots to be placed by the door.

Here are other quick fixes that won’t cost much and can help you get top dollar for your home: Clean the windows inside and outside, touch-up paint that is chipped or flaking, clean and freshen up rooms, furnishings, floors, walls and ceilings. Make sure the kitchen and bathrooms are spotless. Organize closets. Make sure basic appliances and fixtures work. Replace leaky faucets and frayed cords. Eliminate any bad odors, such as pet odors. Use air freshener or Invest in a couple of vases of fresh flowers to place around the house. Most importantly, paint in areas where needed. If the complete house needs a fresh coat of paint, don’t fringe out! If your furniture is damaged and outdated, then I suggest hiring a staging company as the final touch before putting your home on the market.

Dear Michael: After looking for months, we finally found a home. Unfortunately, the home inspection revealed several repairs that weren’t apparent at the time we agreed to buy the house. While we have the right to walk away without losing our deposit, we prefer to work out a solution. What are our options?

Answer: Though sellers must disclose all known material facts to buyers, there are circumstances where the seller did not know of defect. Since you mentioned you want to work out a solution, your first step will be to review your home inspection report. Prioritize the major repairs. In other words, request a credit for the obvious big items needing repairs, don’t fringe on the small stuff out!

Second step is to get several bids from contractors on the cost of these repairs. Third step is to request a monetary credit for repairs or request that the seller make the necessary repairs. As with the initial purchase negotiations, you may receive a seller’s response countering your credit request. Whether the seller agrees to pay for the items you request may depend on the terms of the contract and the current market and price of the home. If all fails and you cannot come to an agreement with your seller, I then suggest you just move on to another home.

Michael Kayem is a Realtor with Re/max Estate Properties serving Culver City and the Westside since 2001. You can contact Michael with your questions at 310-390-3337 or e-mail them to him at: homes@agentmichael.com