Keys Homes
Sunday, June 22, 2014
It pays to be 'wet' in this market

By REGINA CORCORAN Citizen Columnist

Do you have a pool? Have you ever considered building one? Are you a home buyer dreaming of a garden but with a very sharp pencil point?

Installing a pool is a major expense. It's important to figure out if it's worth it -- both for you and potential homeowners.

As every good appraiser knows, the answer is simple. It depends. I know. That's why we get the big bucks.

For me, it seemed the simplest way to find the answer was to examine a nice, homogenous neighborhood. I picked one where the construction styles and quality were all similar -- Cudjoe Gardens.

The trouble is, of all the sales there in the last two years, only two homes with pools have sold. "Hmmm," I said to myself. "What does that mean?"

Undaunted, I selected another homogenous subdivision -- Cutthroat Harbor Estates. I ran into the same seawall.

My conclusion is that in the Keys, there is no demand for pool homes on canals. Unless your own personal vanity demands it, don't bother.

I therefor skipped Sugarloaf Key, Saddlebunch Keys, Shark Key and Key Haven and dove right into Key West. But Key West is a tough customer because there aren't so many standard neighborhoods.

I started with what I call the "bedroom community" near my office. Those are the homes bounded by Kennedy, Flagler and Roosevelt Boulevard. I liked my data. It was very friendly. I found 13 sales of three-bedroom, two-bath homes in the last 24 months. Eight of them had pools.

Survey says: Pool=profit. The average sale price of a home with a pool was $459,863. Average price without is $436,800. That's close to $24,000 less. The price per square foot of living space was also slightly higher for pool homes vs. those without, $283/sf compared with $280/sf.

It was a little peculiar, though, because the average days on market (or marketing time) was slightly longer for homes with a pool compared with those without a "P" -- 181 to 135.

The question is, was this a fluke? Could it be just an accident that my 13 houses worked out this way?

So, I found another similar area of houses in Key West. This time, I selected those bordered by Atlantic Boulevard, Bertha Street, Flagler and White streets.

I got so excited, I thought I might need a paper bag over my head. In the last two years, there were 17 sales, all similar age, size, construction. I was giddy. Yet the best part was the data supported my earlier discovery: Pool=profit.

This time, it was a slam dunk. The average sales price of homes with pool was $500,083 compared to only $352,620 for those without.

Water produced a sharply higher price per square foot to inland as well -- $348/sf to $276/sf.

As if it were my birthday, the days on market for pools was only 134 and for no pool was 219.

The results are clear, at least for this market. It pays to be wet.

All potential homebuyers, owners and home sellers, please be aware. Every market is different. If you want to know if building a pool or buying a pool home is fiscally worthwhile, seek the advice of a professional.

Regina E. Corcoran, SRA, is a Florida real estate broker, state-certified residential appraiser and residential contractor. She is president of AmeriRealty Corp. and vice president of AmeriMortgage Corp. She can be reached at Corcoran writes her column exclusively for The Citizen. It appears every other Sunday.

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