What is the FHA rule for swimming pools?

A closer look at the FHA rule for swimming pools

I had a discussion this week with a local Birmingham, AL real estate agent about the FHA rule for swimming pools because the house he was selling had a pool and they were not sure how FHA would look at the fact that there was not a fence around the pool.

In addition to questions about fencing I thought I would discuss what other requirements FHA has with regards to pools. Just like other FHA issues I always suggest to agents that if there is any chance that a home could be sold using FHA financing then it is a good idea to take care of these items before it goes on the market so that the chances of a deal falling through or closing being delayed are reduced.

With the summer season almost here many buyers may be looking for a home with a pool so today we’re going to look a little deeper into the FHA rule for swimming pools.
FHA swimming pool rule

What exactly does FHA say?

HUD (Dept. of Housing and Urban Development) does makes a distinction between above-ground and in-ground pools. Above-ground pools are considered to be personal property because they can be moved from the property, therefore they cannot be included in an appraisal.

An in-ground pool is considered part of the real estate and is given consideration in the appraisers final opinion of value. Besides this distinction between these two types of pools HUD’s other general guidelines pertain to health and safety factors related to the pool.

Do we need a fence?

HUD does not specifically say that a fence needs to be around the swimming pool, however if there is none there could be a safety issue because of the possibility of a small child falling into the swimming pool and drowning. This is usually left to the discretion of the appraiser and I would say the majority, if not all, would require that some type of enclosure be built to address this safety issue.

Other pool considerations for FHA loans

HUD guidelines indicate that swimming pools must be in operable condition so that they contribute value to the property. Some things to consider include the following:

Quality of water- If the water appears to be contaminated it should be corrected, however if there is no health hazard and it is just aesthetically unappealing then no further action is required. With this being said, a pool company may need to test the water to verify no health concerns exist.

Unstable sides or structural issues- If there are structural problems they will need to be repaired as a condition of the appraisal since this could be a safety issues.

Pool equipment- If the pool equipment is not in working condition then it will need to be repaired as a condition of the appraisal.

If pool is covered and condition is unknown- During the winter months pools may be covered or winterized and it will not be possible for the appraiser to view the water or operation of the pool equipment. If this is the case the appraiser will be required to make what is known as an extraordinary assumption that the pool and its equipment work. If it turns out that the pool does not work then the appraiser’s opinion of value would be subject to revision.

Pool equipment is inoperable- If the pool is not in operating condition then the appraiser will need to make the appraisal subject to the equipment being restored to full operating condition.


Now that you know the FHA rule for swimming pools do you have any other questions? Please leave a comment below and let’s keep the conversation going. As always, thanks for Reading.

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  1. What is the FHA requirement for a pool with slightly green water in the fall and winter seasons? The owner said he has turned off the equipment due to the fall season. Should he make the pool functional for the appraisal?

    • Haseen, thanks for your question. Because the appraiser is not an expert in pool maintenance, etc., and cannot make a determination of its condition we have to report what we see and recommend that a professional take a look at it to verify that all is well. If a pool has green water it could very well be that they have turned off the equipment and it could have no problems but it could also mean that the equipment is broken. I would recommend that the pool be prepared for the appraisal so that the appraiser does not have to recommend an inspection which could cost time and money and slow down the home buying process.

  2. Jennifer Lacey says

    Can an appraiser include an above ground pool in their appraisal of a property? Mine did, and went on to state the stairs leading up to it and the small deck around it had to have safety railings and a gate before it will meet HUD guidelines. Is this accurate considering it’s an above ground pool and shouldn’t be included in the appraisal?

    • The above-ground pool is not included in the appraisal value because it is personal property, however, because it is an FHA appraisal the appraiser is making sure that FHA safety concerns are addressed. Railings are required because if they are absent then it is possible for someone to fall and get injured. It is the same with the pool. A gate must be present to prevent a small child or others from falling in the pool and getting injured. Potential safety concerns are a big part of an FHA appraisal.

  3. Erika Cantwell says

    Thank you! This came in handy as a quick reference today! Wasn’t sure if there was a HUD requirement for door alarms when there is a pool!

    • You’re welcome. To the best of my knowledge, there is no specific rule about door alarms. HUD usually makes blanket states about safety issues so while there may not be a specific door alarm rule if there are any safety concerns they would probably not recommend it.

  4. Question-Client has a in-ground pool. The problem is it has been winterized and cover with a huge blue tarp. The tarp is holding water. It is the middle of winter and there has been a substantial amount of rain and melting snow. Would the secure blue tarp holding water be a FHA buyback issue? Appraiser completed a “as is” appraisal

    • Thanks for the questions, Jaime. Where I live in Alabama this scenario is not really an issue since we do not get snow very often. My first thought would be that since the appraisal is made as is there is probably going to be an assumption that the pool is in good working order and if it is not this could present a problem. A comment that describes the assumption and the reason for it should definitely be included. I would highly recommend asking HUD about such a situation so that you get the correct answer. They can be reached at is 1-800-CALL FHA.

  5. Joe White says


    We are days from closing on an FHA loan in a home with an in-ground vinyl-liner pool.

    The seller opened the pool for an inspection at our request, and it was found to have a detached portion about 4’ long. We required the seller to repair or replace the liner. The seller’s pool repairman tried to stretch the liner back into place and ripped the liner. He put a patch on the hole and is only guaranteeing his work until the end of this summer.

    We asked and the seller refused to replace the liner as she considers it “functioning.”

    Would FHA still approve this loan knowing that we are in for a huge expense right off the bat?


  6. We just had a house appraised and the pool has a large crack from one side to the other, the inspection said bad sand was used to make the gunite. We didn’t notice this until the waterfall was turned off and the water was not moving. I thought the FHA lady would note the damaged pool and she didn’t. I don’t know if I should move forward with purchase and risk a big expense because at this point we don’t know if it is going to be a huge expense or a small one. We are just a few days from closing now. We are strapped and have no extra money at all. Is appraiser liable if we were to buy the house and they didn’t say it needed fixing and it ends up needing to be?

    • No, the appraiser is not a pool expert and that is beyond their level of expertise. They are not required to report on the condition of the pool unless it is very obvious, which it does not appear it was because you said you did not even catch it. I would think the agent and/or owner would be liable or the pool inspector if one was done and they did not catch it.

  7. Thanks for this, knowing this stuff can help getting into a sticky situation in the future most definitely

  8. Hello Tom, Great tips. It would be helpful for us. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Hello Tom, Great suggestion Mark! Thanks for posting about FHA loan requirements for homes with pools. It would be great and very helpful for us. Thanks again for sharing this blog.

  10. Great article about FHA loan requirements for homes with pools. Very helpful. @ Gary Kristensen… awesome- I love it when not only do I learn some important information, but get to laugh at the same time.

  11. I believe a self closing gate is in order as well.

  12. Tom, did you hear about the new FHA rule that appraisers must swim the pool during the viewing of the home if they cannot view all depths of the pool from the side? This rule was added when FHA clarified viewing of the attic, crawlspace, and operating of the appliances. JUST KIDDING :-D, great article to keep as a resource anytime there is a pool and FHA financing.

  13. During the “foreclosure crisis” a few years back, there were so many empty pools. Like I always say, empty pools are great for skating, but not so good for FHA loans (or conventional for that matter). With that being said, many of these properties struggled to obtain FHA financing since the pool was not filled with water (safety issue), and this also meant the appraiser could not test the pool equipment to verify it is operable. I find some owners don’t run their pool equipment during the winter, but before the appraiser comes out they probably want to clean up the water and make sure it is clear. Green water makes it seem like the equipment is not working. 🙂 Great list here, Tom. Thanks.


  1. What will FHA say about your pool? | KDK Realty Blog says:

    […] As the days get warmer, and spring gets nearer, all I can think about is “How long until I can use the pool?!”   We closed on our new house at the end of September, so we missed the prime swimming season.  The pool and outdoor area were the features that let us know the house was the one for us.  For some buyers a pool is a positive, but others view it as a negative.  I began to wonder what lenders thought of a pool and did they view it as a positive feature, or a liability?   I came across a great article by Birmingham, Alabama appraiser Tom Horn discussing the FHA rules for swimming pools.  I’ve posted the content, but click here to view his blog. […]

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