In the heat of summer, a swimming pool may seem like an ideal addition to your backyard. But pools can be expensive In fact, according to HomeGuide, the average cost of an inground pool is $35,000. Most homeowners pay between $28,000 and $55,000, depending on the type, shape, and size of the pool.
Paying these high costs out of pocket is difficult or impossible for most homeowners, so you’ll need to explore how to finance a pool. This guide will help. Let’s dive in.
Pool finance options
Options for pool financing include:
- In-house financing: Pool builders often partner with lenders to provide loans. Obtaining one is easy, but not affordable.
- A home equity loan: If you have equity, you can borrow against it. The interest rate should be low, but there’s a complex approval process. You also put your house at risk.
- A personal loan: This can be a fast and affordable way to finance a pool — if you qualify to borrow enough money at a favorable rate.
Before you decide which method of swimming pool financing is best for you, explore all three options.
Best ways to finance a pool
The best way to finance a pool depends on your situation.
In-house financing from your pool builder can be the simplest approach to borrowing for a pool because of your builder’s existing relationship with the lender. The lender will be familiar with the amount you need to borrow, and your pool builder may help you with the paperwork.
However, not all pool builders offer in-house financing, and you don’t necessarily want to restrict yourself to ones that do. The interest rate or loan terms may not be as favorable as those offered by other lenders, so you don’t want to choose this option without shopping around.
Personal loans are available from a variety of sources, including credit unions, online lenders, and local or national banks. While some are marketed specifically as “pool loans,” you don’t have to narrow your search to these. Any personal loan can be used for virtually any purpose, from financing a large purchase to paying for a pool or a vacation. You can apply for whatever loan type offers you the best rate.
Personal loans often come with reasonable interest rates, but higher rates than a home equity loan or line of credit. You will have a choice of a fixed- or variable-rate loan and a choice of loan terms. Many personal loan lenders allow you to qualify for financing entirely online, and you can usually secure a loan very quickly.
The downside of a personal loan is that some lenders have loan limits below the amount you may need for your pool. There can also be wide variation between lenders in terms of qualifying requirements, interest costs, fees, and loan terms. You’ll need to shop around with several lenders to find the best rates.
Home equity loans or lines of credit
If you owe less than your home is worth and have equity in the house, you could take out a home equity loan. When you do this, you borrow against the value of your house, and the home serves as collateral.
Typically, the total amount you’ll be allowed to borrow — including existing mortgage debt and your home equity loan — is around 80% to 85% of the value of your home. So if you have a $300,000 home and a $200,000 mortgage, you’d be able to borrow another $40,000 to $55,000. Some lenders may allow you to borrow up to 90% or even 95% of your home’s value, but interest rates will typically be higher in those cases.
There are two big benefits to taking out a home equity loan to finance your pool. The first is that the interest rate will usually be lower than other sources of financing. The second is that the interest on your loan should be tax deductible if you itemize, as long as you’re using the funds to improve your primary home and your total mortgage debt doesn’t exceed $750,000.
There are downsides to this financing option, too. Your home is at risk since it’s collateral on your loan, and you could end up facing foreclosure if you can’t make payments on your pool. If you’ve borrowed so much that you have little equity in your home, then you’ll have trouble if you need to sell, because you may not be able to get enough in the sale to pay off your loans. In this situation, you’d have to bring cash to the table, or convince your lender to allow a short sale. That damages your credit tremendously.
Swimming pools don’t generally have a great return on investment (ROI), so there’s a good chance you won’t get back all the money you put into the pool when you sell your home. This exacerbates the risk — tapping into your equity could leave you underwater on your loan, owing more than the home is worth.
How much should I borrow for a pool?
How much to borrow for a pool comes down to personal preference — how much debt are you willing to take on?
Since the ROI on a pool isn’t very good, you can’t necessarily count on getting back what you borrowed if you sell your home. That means your pool isn’t really an investment, but rather a luxury item. And borrowing a lot of money for luxury items can compromise other financial goals.
To decide how much to borrow for your pool, you should consider:
- The amount of interest you’re willing to pay
- How the monthly payments fit into your budget
You’ll want to make sure the total costs of your loan aren’t unreasonable given your income and the value of your home (it probably wouldn’t make sense to put a $100,000 pool in a $200,000 home, for example), and that your monthly payments fit easily into your budget.
If the costs of a pool are so high that you’ll struggle to make your payments or have to spend a fortune in interest costs, opt for a less expensive pool or save more to put down, so you can borrow less.
Ways to save money on a pool loan
If you are borrowing for a pool, aim to make sure your loan is as affordable as possible. To do that:
- Borrow the minimum you need to finance your pool. If you can save some money to pay toward it, or opt for a cheaper pool to lower your borrowing costs, your total interest expense and monthly payment will be lower.
- Borrow for the shortest time possible. A longer repayment timeline gives you smaller monthly payments, but your loan costs more in the long run.
- Shop around. Make sure to explore all your pool financing options so you can get the lowest rate and best terms.
Is financing a pool right for me?
Financing a pool can be a good option if you want to add a pool to your home, if you can qualify for an affordable loan, and if you don’t want to pay for your pool in cash.
But remember that a pool isn’t a necessity or an investment, and borrowing for luxury items often isn’t the best idea, since you’re paying interest for something you don’t really need. Many people borrow for things they want, from swimming pools to vacations, but make sure you think through the tradeoffs and the opportunity cost of using your money this way before you proceed.