One of the most common pieces of advice for people selling their homes is to “stage” the house for visitors. But what exactly does that mean and how do you do it?

Chances are even if you are selling your house, you love it, or at least you did at one time. And the goal is to encourage prospective buyers to love it that way as well. To do that, you have to find a way to get them imaging their stuff in the places where your stuff is.

It might seem as though the easiest way to do that is to remove all your belongings from the house. But experts say that an empty house can feel less homey than one with some things in it. On the other hand, too much stuff can make it difficult for the buyers to imagine the house with their stuff instead of yours.

So how do you strike a happy balance and get the best offers on your house?

The key is to remove things that may somehow keep the potential buyer from feeling at home there? Got a cat? What if the buyer is a dog person? Make the evidence of your pet as invisible as possible. Be especially certain that your pet hasn’t left any odors or other messes for the potential buyers to see.

Most real estate professionals recommend that you remove truly personal mementos from your home during the staging process. For example, book shelves can have books or small knickknacks, but family photos, that perfect shell you found at the beach and your high school yearbooks probably need to get stashed somewhere else.

Another key element of staging your home for sale is minimizing the clutter. When you take extra furniture, books, and even winter clothes out of your house, you make the space look bigger. And, even when people know the exact square footage of the house they are buying, the way that space looks makes a huge difference in the perception of the home.

When you are staging a house for sale, storing your knickknacks, books, and other things off site is preferable to boxing it up and putting it in the garage. Even if there is plenty of storage space there, using it can contribute to the perception that the house is smaller than it is.

Rent a small storage unit for your momentos and then talk to your real estate agent or tax adviser about the expense. In most cases, a storage unit can be considered part of your moving and selling expenses and may reduce the taxes you pay on the money you get when you sell the house. Just make sure you ask a professional!