The near absence of financing has caused
builders and consumers to become increasingly creative in their
efforts to get pools built.
From old-fashioned bartering to hard- money loans, it seems that
no idea is too far-fetched for consideration.
“I’ll take a trade-in on a motor home, a boat or
anything,” said Mark Ragel, president of Tucson-based Patio
Pools. “It’s been kind of an unwritten rule for the
last couple months: No reasonable offer refused.”
When working with barter, Ragel investigates the low Bluebook
value of the item or determines what it would sell for on
Craig’s List. That amount then is credited toward the
For Ragel, it takes no more effort to sell these items than it
does to secure a loan. “If it’s financing, I’m
making numerous phone calls, going to lenders — I’m all
over the place,” he said.
However, Ragel does give one caveat: Be sure to take care of all
the appropriate taxes. “You have to pay sales tax on whatever
the purchase price is, whether you take trade or not,” he
Not all forms of creative financing are so basic. If the banks
won’t work with a prospective client, landscape designer
Scott Cohen hooks them up with a friend who arranges hard-money
Often seen as a last resort, hard-money loans are backed by
collateral, usually a piece of property. They carry much higher
interest rates than traditional financing and the lenders are
sometimes private individuals.
“These loans are still as tax-deductible as any other
home-improvement loan,” said Cohen, who is president of The
Green Scene Design & Construction in Canoga Park, Calif.
“And if we believe that home values will come back over the
next five to 10 years, then it’s really just a temporary loan
and you’ll be able to refinance at some future
There is also a type of loan used by at least one customer that
goes well beyond hard-money financing. Steve Toth sold a pool to a
Houston-area couple who paid for it on three different credit
“My customers had already put the project off for [close
to] two years,” said Toth, who owns Acclaim Pools in The
Woodlands, Texas. “They didn’t want to wait
The couple arranged an interest rate in advance with the bank, and
figured they could make payments of $5,000 per month.