If you’re hoping to strike up a friendship with a neighbour who has a backyard pool, your chances improve if you live in Kelowna, West Vancouver or Surrey.
Those cities have the greatest number of single family dwellings with their own backyard pools, according to numbers provided to Postmedia News by Landcor Data Corp., using B.C. Assessment Authority information.
There are more than 28,000 pools in the yards of single family dwellings in B.C., or less than five per cent of all such homes.
Kelowna has the most pools, at 3,004, and also among the largest percentage of single family homes, at 20 per cent with a pool.
That’s followed by West Vancouver with 2,173 houses with pools, or 19 per cent. Surrey has the third-largest number of pools, at 2,441, but the percentage of single family dwelling homes with pools in that city is just three per cent.
Vancouver has 1,292 pools, 1.7 per cent of all single family homes, while Richmond has 595 pools (about two per cent of houses).
Communities with a high percentage of houses with pools are the University Endowment Lands (93 pools, or 21 per cent of all houses in that community), Anmore (88 pools, 14.7 per cent), Coldstream (475 pools, 14.6 per cent) and rural Penticton (252 pools, 14.4 per cent).
The Landcor data also shows that in most neighbourhoods houses with or without pools appreciated roughly the same since 2011. But houses with pools in Vancouver jumped in value by 43 per cent since 2011, compared with those without pools (25 per cent), a difference of 18 percentage points.
The greater appreciation of Vancouver homes with pools surprises Sotheby’s real estate agent Karen Hutton, a mother of four boys who has a backyard pool at her West Vancouver home.
She loves the pool because “you have lots of kids around all summer, lots of play dates, and that’s the great thing.” She said four friends of theirs love the pool so much they’re installing their own.
But she said homebuyers in West Vancouver rarely ask for pools on their list of must-haves. About a quarter want a pool, a quarter oppose a pool and half are indifferent, she said.
She’s even had one buyer fill in the pool after buying the house.
Mike Marfori, a realtor with Sutton Premier Realty, said that difference in Vancouver real estate values “sounds a little excessive,” and that it’s likely skewed by the upper end of the Vancouver market, where there have been dramatic jumps in real estate values, all of which likely have pools.
“For $10 million and anything over that, you definitely need an indoor/outdoor pool,” he said. “It is a luxury feature that more and more luxury homes have.”
Marfori, listing agent for a 5,000-square-foot four-bedroom home for sale in the Fleetwood Tynehead area of Surrey, said pools aren’t usually the main reason buyers choose a home.
And he said, “There are a lot of people who don’t see the value in a pool.”
Installing a new in-ground pool that’s 20-by-30-foot can cost as much as $120,000 — and there are upkeep costs. Thermeau.com puts the costs to heat a 20-by-10-foot pool in Victoria to a comfortable 29 degrees Celsius between May and October at between $357 to $467 a month, depending on whether the owner uses electricity, propane or natural gas. Hutton’s family spends about $350 a month to heat their pool to 30 degrees Celsius.
According to Real Estate Magazine online the biggest market for homes with pools are middle-aged buyers with teens (drowning fears scare away young families and upkeep costs make it less a draw for seniors).
Owners installing their own pool “typically recoup 40 to 50 per cent of their initial investment,” it said.
But the magazine notes pools are a tougher sell when there’s a community pool nearby, if it takes up a large percentage of the yard and if it’s an above-ground pool, saying those pools add no value to the property and can even drive the price down if they’re in poor condition.
Nonetheless, the number of private pools appear to be growing. Kelowna and West Vancouver have seen the greatest hike in the number of new pools since 2003, according to the Landcor data, but Vancouver and Surrey are up only marginally since then.
And there has been a net decline in the total number of pools in Burnaby, Coquitlam and Richmond over the same period.
There were 27 properties for sale that came up in MLS listings for the City of Vancouver with a “swimming pool” search filter.
The Landcor data didn’t include pools at apartments or in multi-family complexes, but per capita there’s one private pool for every 163 British Columbians.
The province’s tally of about 28,000 backyard pools has a long way to go to match the 300,000 in Quebec, where there’s one for every 26 Quebecers (which beats even California, where there is one pool for every 31 residents).