SELLING A HOME WITH A POOL IN WINTER?
Properly closing a pool can go a long way to having it function properly upon reopening it.
If Selling a Home with a Pool, Hire an Expert
If selling a home with a pool during the cooler months, it’s advisable to hire a 3rd party pool expert to winterize and close your pool. With a receipt of work performed, you can also obtain a report that states one of the following:
- · The pool is in good working order, and a list of items, if any, that were repaired or replaced are noted, or
- · A list of repairs and costs needed upon the pool's reopening. This disclosure of deficiencies can easily be factored in any negotiations to buy.
Though properly winterized, maintained, repaired and closed, a pool can still cause concern to a home buyer buying out of season. Winter can at times cause problems that are not discovered until one attempts to open the pool in the spring or summer. A typical a buyer asks, “What if something is wrong when I go to open it?”
There is, of course, a certain level of buyer beware when buying anything. Pools, as in all things, can and do break and winters can be the cause. In most cases and as mentioned, houses with pools will have been winterized and the seller will typically have expert documentation.
Commonly, and to help alleviate a buyer’s concern, a clause in an offer can read that the seller represents and warrants that the pool is in good working order. This is all well and good. If a problem is discovered, however, on reopening the pool, a buyer would have to rely on a seller’s goodwill to contribute to the cost of needed corrections, if the seller can be found. Alternatively, the buyer would have to resort to legal action and, in so doing, would have the onus of proving that the pool was not in good working order for the seller to be liable. All of this sound like a royal pain in time, stress and cost, and it is.
There’s a better way?
You can attempt to negotiate that the seller agrees to a holdback of money from the closing funds. We’ve seen pool holdbacks of $1,000 and up to $5,000 agreed to between buyers and sellers. The holdback amount is held in trust by one of the lawyers. All or part of this money would be applied toward any expenses the buyer will incur on reopening the pool and finding that the pool and equipment are in fact not in good working order.
The buyer in this event has to give written notice of any claim with accompanying documentation to the seller by no later than a certain date. For example, the buyer would have to give notice to the seller by no later than say May 30th, failing which the Seller will not be responsible for costs and the amount held back is returned to the seller. With this approach, the seller agrees to pay for any costs up to the amount of the holdback and no more. Any costs beyond the holdback amount will of course be the buyer’s responsibility. Any surplus funds would be returned to the seller. This approach would make for a much better and easier solution.