By Bruce Cathcart

Summer announced its arrival this past weekend as Saturday recorded 117 degrees as the high temperature here in our Coachella Valley.  That’s a little warm for the first week of June.  All I could think about was finishing up this article and then going outside and jumping into my swimming pool.  When my wife and I started shopping for our first home here in the desert I was told it was a law that we had to have a swimming pool.  We were newlyweds then and I have since learned that it wasn’t really a law in the legal sense, but it was just one of her many laws which I have dutifully obeyed for the past 40 years.   Of course the only home we found that we could afford back then did not have a pool and so it took us a year or so before we could put one in ourselves (the cost back then was only $5,000.00!).  Having spent a lifetime maintaining and enjoying my pool as well as selling homes with and without pools I believe that I am pretty well qualified to share some of the pros and cons on whether or not you should purchase a home with or without a swimming pool.  But before I get to that good advice let’s do a quick check of last month’s sales numbers to see if the Coachella Valley is still keeping pace with last year’s sales.

According to the Desert Area MLS (as of 06/01/16) there were 1092 pendings of residential properties here in the Coachella Valley in May.  That’s up from the 1,039 pendings in the previous month (April) still showing good volume and representing a significant increase in terms of activity for May.  In April there were 810 solds and in May we had 854 solds showing another month over month increase).   Last year in May we sold only 828 homes representing a year over year increase in the actual number of homes that closed escrow in May of this year when compared to the same time last year.   In summary, we had a slow start to 2016 as buyers seemed to be holding back either due to the crashing stock market or the hyper media attention given to the circus we call the primary elections for the POTUS, but we have had a strong finish to our “selling season” posting increased numbers in both pendings and sales.  Our inventory of homes for sale was significantly reduced this month with only 4,906 homes available on May 31, 2016 compared to 5,575 homes available on May 1, 2016.   That correction continues to bring our market back into balance continuing the trend from a buyer’s market back to a Seller’s market.  While the combination of high pending sales and the reduction in available inventory suggests that we are headed back to a Seller’s market, this will require continued higher sales volume at the time of year that our sales typically fall off due to the summer heat.  Our market seems to be doing a pretty good job of self-correcting and staying in balance these days.  With interest rates staying at rock bottom it still a good time to be shopping for a home here in the Coachella Valley.

Obviously it costs more to buy a home with a pool than a similar home without one.  But the costs don’t stop there.  When considering whether or not to purchase a home with a pool you must consider the additional costs associated with maintaining and owning a pool.  I gave up trying to maintain my own pool after only 3 months so you should assume that you will need a pool service to perform the weekly maintenance which runs anywhere from $80 to $125 a month for an average sized pool.  Add to this your monthly power bill to run the pump and filter ($25 to $35) and water bill to keep the water level full (+/-$10). And don’t forget about the additional homeowner’s insurance premiums you will want to pay to provide adequate liability coverage (I recommend an “Umbrella Policy” in addition to your regular homeowner’s insurance policy for additional coverage).  If you plan to swim in the winter you better include the cost to heat your pool and of course don’t forget about repairs to the pool and equipment over the course of your ownership.  So is a pool worth the extra expense?  Here in the Coachella Valley we live in one of the few places in the Country where we can actually use a swimming pool all year long.  If you have children it can be the ultimate baby sitter in the summer… not to mention you will be the “cool house”.  Yards with pools can also be quite beautiful providing attractive views and a central point to gather around while entertaining.  Pools are a Selling Feature here in the desert as most buyers would like to have a pool, assuming they can afford one.  Like all decisions, buying a home with a pool, assuming you can afford all of the costs associated with it, comes down to a personal choice.  As always, your trusted professional Agent can help you with this decision!  Personally, when I am paying the monthly service bill in December I might say it isn’t worth it… but on days like today I couldn’t live without one!

Join me each month this year as we keep a close eye on our Coachella Valley real estate market.  If you have a real estate question or concerns please email me at the address below.

Bruce Cathcart is the Broker/Co-Owner of La Quinta Palms Realty, “Your Friendly Professionals” and can be reached by email at bycathcart@laquintapalmsrealty.com or visit his website at www.laquintapalmsrealty.com.

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