By Todd Nelson, business development officer at LightStream
Photo from Omega Pool Structures, Inc.
If you’re considering adding a backyard pool this year, you are certainly not alone. According to the fourth annual home improvement survey by LightStream, the online lending division of SunTrust Bank, spending on pools has increased 40 percent since 2016. Millennial homeowners seem especially drawn to the water, with 16 percent planning to spend money on a pool this year, compared to only 10 percent of baby boomers and Generation Xers.
So why are pool installations on the rise?
Donna Williams, chief marketing officer at POOLCORP, the world’s largest wholesale distributor of swimming pool supplies, equipment and related leisure products, reveals that the economy is playing a large part in the upward trend. When home prices slumped following the economic downturn in 2008, spending money on a lavish home upgrade or addition wasn’t high on most people’s list of priorities. But with consumer confidence and the real estate market on the rise, many homeowners now have the inclination to spend.
New trends in the industry have also contributed to the rise in pool installations. According to POOLCORP, four trends are driving growth: customization, technological advances, generational lifestyles and financing.
The days of “standard” pools are gone. Today you can choose from a nearly endless set of design options to create the backyard pool of your dreams. Customization begins with your pool’s shape. If you prefer the clean lines of a classic rectangular pool, you can certainly have it, but otherwise – any shape, size, or theme you can imagine can be built!
When it comes to pool types, there are a broad range of options to meet nearly every homeowner’s specific needs. Gunite pools are a common choice in regions with a warmer climate thanks to their durability. In addition to standard Gunite or colored plaster, a variety of decorative finishes are also available such as quartz, pebble, or even smooth, stunning glass beads. Pool tile has gone far beyond the standard blue waterline! Earth tones, decorative borders, and iridescent glass are just a few of today’s popular pool tile options.
Vinyl liner pools are another durable option that offers an array of colors and patterns to choose from. Fiberglass pools are also a great choice because they can be installed very quickly and come in an array of shapes, sizes, and colors.
Lighting options provide another opportunity for customizing your pool. Forget the simple white pool light – you can choose from an array of colors and features, such as preprogrammed light show settings offered by LED bulbs.
Mobile apps have brought a much-welcomed convenience factor to designing and owning your own pool. When planning for your pool, the NPT app from POOLCORP allows you to choose your tile, pool finish and hardscape features so you can envision how selected design elements will work together. Once your pool is installed, most major pool manufacturers offer apps that allow you to remotely control all of your pool functions. Operating pool lights, controlling pump speed, turning on fountains or jets, and heating the pool can all be done with the touch of a button, even if you’re not at home. Advanced safety features for pools are also attractive options, especially if you have young children.
Backyard pools have always been popular with families, but the lifestyle patterns of millennial and baby boomer homeowners are increasing their appeal to those groups as well. Ms. Williams says that POOLCORP has noted that highly social millennials are embracing backyard pools as a good option for entertaining and hanging out with friends in the comfort of their own homes. At the other end of the spectrum, an increasing number of baby boomers are also adding backyard pools to create a fun environment for gatherings with their children and grandchildren.
Pools are also attractive today because of the variety of health benefits they offer. For baby boomers and Gen Xers conscious of straining their joints, swimming is a zero-impact sport that supports cardiovascular endurance. No matter your age, having a pool can have a positive impact on your health.
4.Paying for your pool
Today’s payment options are making dream backyard pools a reality.
According to the LightStream survey, the majority of homeowners planning renovations this year intend to tap savings to pay for their projects. While cash may be readily available, not everyone should take from a savings account to cover home improvements – especially if the savings are intended to be an emergency fund. With today’s low interest rate environment and other available financing options, pulling from savings may not be the best solution.
If a home’s value has increased since its purchase, and you’re comfortable tapping into its value to make a large purchase, a Home Equity Line of Credit may be another way to fund your pool. Many banks offer HELOCs, with loans typically taking few months to go from application to funding. If you have time for the research, paperwork, appraisals and loan decisioning process, this may be a good option. Also, HELOC financing may be tax deductible, so consult a financial advisor to ascertain whether this makes sense for your particular financial situation.
In the last few years, the emergence of many new consumer lending companies has created a new option: the unsecured home improvement loan. But borrower beware. Check to make sure the lender you choose offers the loan you require and can deliver home improvement financing at the rates you expect. Be sure to read the fine print; many lenders say they have “no fees,” but then roll application, closing cost and/or account servicing expenses into the loan. They may also charge pre-payment penalties, should you decide to pay-off your loan, early.
In contrast, LightStream offers good-credit customers a swimming pool loan for up to $100,000 at highly competitive, fixed rates and no fees. With a completely online process, no appraisals and simple application, customers are approved quickly. Funds are deposited directly into the borrower’s bank account, giving people the flexibility to select any product, service or contractor they choose. With this speed and flexibility, customers can have the financing they need to customize their luxury pool, including technology, decks, outdoor kitchens, furnishing or other amenity associated with your project.
From finishes to financing, homeowners have more choices than ever when it comes to putting in a pool. Dive on in!