Dress up that custom weblog you've built to help sell your home

Last week we built a custom weblog to help you sell your home. This week, let's dress it up a little.

Some of the things I'll be talking about are free, but others cost money. Your Realtor may have a marketing budget, so that could be a source of funding. But even if not, with only a few buyers chasing a very large number of homes, stinting on marketing costs may not be your best strategy.

Here's something you can do for free: Go to Google Maps and build a map to your home. At a minimum, you should also provide driving directions from the nearest freeway exit. But, if you sign up for a free Google account, you can link to an elaborate custom map for your home.

Highlight parks, playgrounds, schools and shopping. Saying anything at all about churches might invite Fair Housing complaints, but you can draw attention to other nearby amenities. Even better, you can attach pictures and internet links to your map markers, so that buyers can really get a feel for the neighborhood.

Online real estate sites like Zillow.com and Trulia.com want to know that your home is for sale. You can add photos to those sites and link back to your custom weblog, which will bring you more traffic. On Zillow.com, you can "claim" your home, updating details on any upgrades you have made to it.

We like to use floorplans. You might be able to get one to scan (or better yet, an Adobe PDF file) from your home's builder. We use a company called FloorPlansFirst.com because they make interactive web-based floorplans. Buyers can move their furniture into the home to see how it will fit. This costs money, but it sells houses.

For virtual tours, we're switching to Obeo.com. Their tours cost more, but they offer a category-killer feature: Virtual redecorating. Your buyers can discover how much they're going to love your house after they've remodeled the kitchen and repainted the exterior.

And the only stronger commitment a buyer can make is a purchase contract and a fat check.

Greg Swann is the designated broker for BloodhoundRealty.com, a full-service Metropolitan Phoenix real estate brokerage. This article originally appeared in the West Valley regional sections of the Arizona Republic.