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In the heat of summer, a swimming pool may seem like an ideal addition to your backyard. But paying for a pool out of pocket 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. Covering these high costs out of pocket is difficult or impossible for the typical homeowner.
You might be wondering, "Can you finance a pool?" Yes -- and there are several ways to do so. In fact, getting a pool is a great way to improve your quality of life without putting too much strain on your savings account.
Here's how to finance a pool.
Options for pool financing include:
Before you decide which method of swimming pool financing is best for you to put in your dream pool, explore all three options.
Just as with any home renovation, the best way to finance a pool depends on your situation.
If you're exploring how to finance pool installation, you might start by talking to your builder. 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 loan amounts you need since they offer a swimming pool loan as a standard product, 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 a pool dealer that provides in-housing pool construction financing. 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 from a credit union, or from online lenders, and local or national banks. While some are marketed specifically as "pool loans," or as a "home improvement loan," you don't have to narrow your search to a lending institution with this type of branding.
Any personal loan from any lending institution 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 flexible loan type offers you the best rate and you may not even have to specify your loan purpose to the lender.
A personal loan is generally an unsecured loan, which means no collateral is required and your assets aren't on the line. However, if you are struggling to get approved for an unsecured loan due to your credit score or other financial factors, it's possible to get a secured loan if you have assets that the lender can take if you fail to pay back the loan.
Personal loans often come with reasonable interest rates, but higher rates than a home equity loan, home equity line of credit (HELOC), or cash-out refinance loan. You will have a choice of a fixed-rate or variable-rate loan and a choice of loan terms. Just be aware of the pros and cons of repayment terms. A longer loan term comes with lower monthly payments but higher total costs. And make sure to watch out for hidden fees. For example, you'll likely want to avoid loans with a prepayment penalty.
Many personal loan lenders allow you to qualify for financing entirely online, and you can usually secure a loan very quickly. You will have the broadest choice of lenders if you have excellent credit, but there are also some personal loans that cater to borrowers with a lower credit score. Your credit score will determine how much choice of lenders you have, and borrowers with good credit will usually qualify for a lower interest rate.
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 to find the best lenders for swimming pool financing -- don't just choose the first financial institution marketing loans for an inground or above-ground swimming pool.
If you owe less than your home is worth and have equity in the house, you could take out a home equity loan, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) or a cash-out refinance loan to finance pool construction. When you do this, you borrow against the value of your house, and the home serves as collateral. This makes it a secured loan.
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 up to another $40,000 to $55,000. Some lenders may allow a borrower to qualify for a loan worth up to 90% or even 95% of your home's value, but interest rates will typically be higher in those cases.
A home equity loan would allow you to borrow an exact amount for swimming pool construction and your loan would have a set payoff time. A HELOC gives you access to a line of credit and you can borrow up to that amount, drawing from your credit line as needed and paying it back to enable future borrowing. A cash-out refinance involves getting a new loan that's larger than your current mortgage. You'd pay off your existing debt and keep the difference to finance your pool.
There are two big benefits to taking out a home equity loan, HELOC, or cash-out refinance to finance your new swimming 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, though. You could face high closing costs. Your home is also 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. A HELOC also typically has a variable interest rate, which could put you at risk of borrowing costs rising.
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 to borrow to finance a swimming pool installation 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:
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.
If you are borrowing for a pool, aim to make sure your loan is as affordable as possible. To do that:
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 securing loan funding before you proceed.
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