Homes are selling before the “for sale” signs are planted, and homebuilders have backlogs of customers that run a year-plus.

So why build a 20,000-square-foot “one-of-a-kind” pool as an eye-catching landmark for new housing development?

The family-owned Rancho Mission Viejo Co., which is developing the final slices of its southern Orange County ranchland, has been known for its long-view thinking.

This spring, the ranch owners are opening their third “village” at Rancho Mission Viejo. Rienda, with a massive pool as its centerpiece, will initially offer 1,463 homes in the coming weeks. When completed, Rienda will have 2,900 homes.

When it opens to community residents, they’ll find that the lagoon-like Ranch Cove isn’t just another big association pool. It’s almost double that of an Olympic-sized pool, and it’s got a decidedly high-end resort look. And it’s even bigger than the company’s previously biggest swimming spot — an 18,000 square-foot “lake” in Rancho Santa Margarita.