Let me clear up an important distinction, before we go any further. Selling your house quickly is one thing. But making a quick sale while also recouping your investment ... well, that's another thing entirely. And it might not be possible in this market, depending on where you live.
For good example, if you paid $300,000 for a home at the top of your market, the same property might be worth much less in the current market (depending on how bad the market crashed in your area). It might be worth closer to $200,000 today. Could you sell the home quickly in the current market? Yes. Would you be able to sell it for close to what you paid? No. Sorry, but that's the reality of the situation in many cities across American right now.
As a seller, you've to accept this harsh reality before you can price your home effectively for the current market. What you paid for the house when you bought it is almost entirely irrelevant. This is a whole new economy, with new pricing models in place.
So proper pricing is the first step to success. For starters, you need to get some recent sales data to see what homes are selling for in your area. The more closely the sold properties match your own home, the better. Realtors refer to these as comparable sales, or "comps." The three most significant qualities of a good comp are timeliness, proximity and comparative likeness. In other words, you should base your asking price on recent sales from comparable homes located as close to your neighborhood as possible.
It might also be a good idea to have your house appraised by a professional home appraiser before you list it for sale. This will give you a good idea where you stand, in terms of value. Just keep in mind that a single appraiser's opinion is not gospel. You must consider it along with the other data you've gathered.
Proper home staging is another critical step in the process. If you want to sell your house quickly in the 2009 market, you need to stage the home for sale. Plain and simple. Many sellers hear the word "staging" and automatically assume it means spending numerous money. But this is not necessarily the case. There are many free and low-cost staging ideas you can implement throughout your house. Selling a house in this economy is a fierce competition. Sellers are competing for the attention (and ideally the offers) of a reduced number of home buyers. So the smart sellers -- the ones who understand this dynamic -- are going above and beyond to spruce up their homes. They are painting, landscaping, de-cluttering, staging and modernizing. They are also pricing their houses based on current sales data, as painful as it may be.
If you hope to sell your house quickly in this market, you'll need to do the same thing. The worst-case scenario is to have a property that is overpriced and under-prepared. You won't even attract any visitors if this is the case. But even if you price it right to attract buyers, you still need to go above and beyond to stage and present the home.