In this hot seller's market, all a home owner needs to do is stick a "for sale" sign in the yard and the buyers will start lining up to make offers, right? Wrong. No matter how strong a market is, there are still key factors that will determine if your house sells quickly for the highest possible price, or if it becomes a stale listing that languishes on the market with little interest from buyers.

Of course, there is also a middle ground between those extremes, where you sell your house relatively quickly, but at a price that is below what it could have been had you had incorporated some or all of the 5 keys to selling a house. For most people their home is their largest investment, and selling it short can be a financial set back that will be felt for a long time.

So what should a home owner do to ensure a quick sale at maximum price? Follow these 5 keys to selling a house, and don't blow it!

First, hire a professional Realtor. If you think for a minute that you will save money by not having to pay a commission, think again. Sellers unwittingly give away thousands of dollars by not having an accurate comparative market analysis done on their home by a Realtor who knows their neighborhood well and will set the right price. If priced too high, your home will sit on the market. Priced too low, it may be snapped up quickly, but you just lost a pile of money that could have gone into your new home. Besides setting the correct price, your Realtor also negotiates contracts for a living. Do you? How confident are you that you will have the upper hand when negotiating against the buyer's Realtor? Especially when you are emotionally involved in the transaction, it's very difficult to be an effective and successful negotiator.

Second, go ahead and pack up the vast majority of your stuff and put it into storage, sell it, or give it away. Your house will appear more spacious, calmer, and the buyers will be able to envision themselves in it much more easily. That includes the stuff you've crammed into closets and in the attic. Go through the house top to bottom, and purge!

Third, you know all those little things that are broken or not working in the house? It's time to fix them. Buyers don't want to move into a house that needs work immediately, unless you are having a fire sale. If you want top dollar for your house, it needs to be in good repair.

The fourth of 5 keys to selling a house is to freshen it up with new paint, new flooring if it needs it, and adding one or two of the latest trends in housing decor.

This is especially important in the kitchen or master bath, which are the most important rooms for many buyers. An update like a granite counter top or gorgeous mirror can be the "wow" factor that makes your house stand out.

And finally, the last of the 5 keys to selling a house is to view it from the curb, making sure your home has instant appeal when a buyer walks up to the front door. Is the landscaping overgrown? Are there cobwebs around the front door? Take a critical look at your house, and make sure it is welcoming and attractive. We all get used to our surroundings and stop really seeing what is there. Your Realtor, who is in and out of homes all the time and knows what appeals to buyers, can give you vital guidance in this area as well.