Outdoor hot tubs - love them or hate them?Posted by Jolenta Averill, Broker on Friday, September 11th, 2009 at 10:52am.
A client recently posed this question, "Do you think if we got rid of the hot tub it would help?" Translation: Would getting rid of our hot tub make our property more attractive to buyers?
The client suggested she freecycle the hot tub. In fact, she thought she'd have no problem getting rid of it by the weekend. I don't know a lot about hot tubs (I've never owned one) but I wondered how she'd get rid of it so quickly if it was so undesirable. Afterall, it was already Thursday when she made the suggestion. Then again, that hot tub (see photo) wasn't looking so hot. It actually made her newly refinished deck look a little shabby. Then she mused, "I don't think anyone even wants a hot tub anymore. It costs a fortune to keep it running in the winter and what's the point of having one in the summer? On the other hand, if it would help to repair it and get it up and running, we could do that too."
So in puzzling that over we couldn't help but think the hot tub looked pretty darn uninviting. We even thought about staging the area to look romantic but somehow neither one of us was convinced that getting naked in front of the neighbors (albeit without them knowing) while they relaxed on the deck in their back yard was all that compelling an idea. In fact, it seemed a laughably bad one.
My client went on to explain that, with kids, having a hot tub is actually a huge turn-off since it's arguably a safety hazard. Kids can accidentally get in there if it's not locked, the lid quickly shuts, and disaster strikes. Kids are naturally curious and busy adults can easily forget to lock a hot tub. Maybe having to lock a hot tub is just one more way to complicate one's life? And finally, what are you supposed to put in place of the hot tub once it's been removed? I mean, won't there be an ugly indentation on a deck that once held a hot tub? So if we do decide to remove it, we're hoping the area beneath the hot tub is level and even rather than sunken in. As far as the electrical hookups go, that's another potential eyesore but at least the hookups will be there if anyone wants a hot tub in the future.
I gotta admit, in six years I've never had a buyer get excited about a hot tub being included in the sale. The usual comment is "I wonder if they can remove that prior to closing" followed closely by "I wonder what that thing did to the deck - I bet we'll have to redo it". In only one case have I ever seen a buyer excited about the prospect of a house already having a spot for his hot tub (i.e. a concrete pad or separate area of the deck dedicated to a hot tub). And in that case, the buyer was so wedded to his own hot tub that he didn't even want the one included in the sale!
So what do you think about outdoor hot tubs? Are they a selling point or a major turnoff? Are they worth the higher utility bills or nothing more than a maintenance headache? If you remove one, what do you put in its place? One thing's for sure: remove it and you'll have to strip and re-finish the decking (or expect negative feedback from prospective buyers). In your opinion, is it preferable to leave the hot tub in place and hope the next owners are fans or willing to get rid of it - or is it better to have the hot tub removed and not include it in the sale?
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Jolenta Averill, Principal
Lake & City Homes Realty