Personal Finance

7 Profitable Side Hustles in the Real Estate Field

Expertise: Landlording & Rental Properties, Business Management, Personal Finance, Real Estate News & Commentary, Real Estate Investing Basics
95 Articles Written
young woman sanding planks of wood with an orbital sander in an unfinished room during DIY renovations


Every day, you’re hustling. But maybe your hustle just isn’t enough to pay off those student loans. Or you need a few extra bucks to worry less about credit card bills. Or maybe you’re ready to buy an investment property but just need to scrape together a down payment.

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Or maybe you were furloughed or let go from your 9-5 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s time for you to get a side hustle.

Close to half of all Americans have a side hustle. A lot of these side hustlers even have full-time jobs. But some are looking to leave that full-time job and start earning passive income while they live in Bali. If you’re looking to invest in real estate, side hustles can help you get there without making a drastic change to your lifestyle.

Don’t know where to start? Read on for a few suggestions.

Some of these side hustles require a little bit of cash to start. Others don’t. Some require a license and some training. Others require that you have great selling skills and killer connections in the industry.

But no matter where you are in your real estate journey, you can start making some extra with at least one of these side hustle ideas.

Virtual Assistant

Digital nomads and side hustlers all over the world start out as a virtual assistant (aka VA). VAs don’t have to ever meet their clients in order to make money—they just do all of the tasks that the client is too busy to do themselves. In the real estate field, being a virtual assistant may include:

  • Managing appointments
  • Sending emails to clients
  • Writing and sending personal newsletters
  • Updating mailing lists
  • Maintaining property listings

It’s not the most glamorous job, but it will give you a taste of what it’s like to work in the real estate field.

Related: The Easiest Way to Get Started in Real Estate (Gain Experience and Get Paid, Too!)

Content Creator/Real Estate Blogger

It is possible to make money writing a blog. One option is writing for an existing blog that pays writers. Another option is to start your own blog.

If you start your own blog, you’ll need to invest more time and effort in the beginning to generate readership and eventually make passive income. If you’re passionate about real estate, writing, and making an income on the side, it could be a great investment.

man sitting at desk working on a computer

Airbnb Management

Granted, Airbnbs have been put on pause for the last couple of months. But as cities continue to open back up and travel resumes, the popularity of short-term rentals will rise again.

And you don’t have to own a property to make money off Airbnb. All you need is a property owner with some rooms to fill.

Not all property owners have the time to manage guests coming in and out of their rental every other day—even if it could potentially mean more money in their pocket. That’s where the Airbnb manager comes in.

Here’s how it works. You approach a property owner who is looking for tenants. You tell them that you’ll pay rent as an Airbnb manager. Throughout the month, you clean the property, welcome guests, pay the right insurance payments, and rake in the cash.

This is a great side hustle for someone who isn’t willing (or doesn’t have the funds) to make a down payment on a property.

Related: How to Make Extra Money (22 Part-Time Gigs & Side Hustle Ideas)

Wholesaling (Bird-Dogging)

There are plenty of ways to earn money in real estate without buying any property. In fact, you don’t even need a lot of cash to start a side hustle. Wholesaling is one of the least expensive ways to get into the real estate industry—you just need the skills and network to get started.

Here’s how it works. Wholesalers essentially act as a middleman and make some commission for their efforts. They connect sellers who need to get out of their place fast with buyers who want a good deal on a property. The wholesaler walks away a few thousands dollars richer—all for knowing how to make connections and make things happen.

Part-Time Real Estate Agent

Not all real estate agents make this job their whole hustle. A few showings on the weekend could be the key to that extra cash you need for a luxury vacation or a down payment. Plus, there's no better way to get to know your local market than to become an agent.

Of course, you will need to put in a bit of time, effort, and money to make this side hustle work. Fortunately, it’s a career that will always catch you if you need some extra cash.

a couple going over business documents in a living room with an agent

Referral Fees

If you have a real estate license, you have more opportunities to earn money from side hustles. One of these opportunities is making referral fees. Like wholesaling, you have to have a good network and eye for opportunity to make this work.

Let’s say you have a client who is looking to move to a new city or state. You aren’t licensed to help them find their dream house in that particular market. Luckily, you know just the agent who is. In exchange for your referral, you get a cut of the agent’s commission.

House Flipper

Like real estate agents, house flippers can make this hustle a lifestyle. If you have access to the right contractors, however, you can make this a hands-off project that still rakes in money. Knowledge of the market and an eye for the latest design trends will also help you out here.

We've all seen house-flipping shows on HGTV, but just because you've seen a surprise cost doesn't mean you're fully prepared. Make sure to team up with experts in construction, real estate agents, and legal services providers to help you make the best decisions on flipping.

The Bottom Line

You can spend as much or as little time earning income through these side hustles—just know that you will get out what you put in. If you’re interested in any of these particular gigs, reach out to people who are already making money doing it. A quick cup of coffee and a chat will help you determine whether it’s the right hustle for you.

Any unique side hustle ideas you’d add to the list above? Do you have a side gig? What’s your experience been like?

Weigh in with a comment below.

Scott Royal Smith is an asset protection attorney and long-time real estate investor. His law firm, Royal Legal Solutions, helps thousands of real est...
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    Nick Peters Specialist from New York City, NY
    Replied 11 months ago
    Great article Scott. It goes to show that anyone passionate about real estate can find something to do in the field. The list is definitely good and one could find even more side hustles with a bit of imagination. Content creation is definitely a great example, especially nowadays and it’s not just blogging. For example, you can also write ebooks (some of the best books I’ve read were ebooks), create and maintain a community (local or online like BP), develop tools, software and spreadsheets for the industry (that’s how I got into real estate when I couldn’t invest in properties right away).
    Nia Laing from ATL
    Replied 8 months ago
    Thanks for the extra ideas, Nick.
    Jared Stasch
    Replied 11 months ago
    Not just AirBNB management but property management as a whole can be a side hustle. Most managers I have used barely do anything and a problem for us as an investor is a money making side hustle for someone else. Once you get tenants in the building then property management is pretty basic stuff.
    Oscar Sessions
    Replied 11 months ago
    I agree with this. The property management agencies are lower on my list than someone who can dedicate more time. A property manager in a busy agency will have like 20+ properties! That’s not good for me as an investor. Also the typical take is 10 percent of the rent/fees. Also, air bnb cleaning is a good one. The cleaning fees make up most of my air bnb profits so for a while my cleaner was making a lot!
    Drew Lewis from Greensboro, North Carolina
    Replied 11 months ago
    Amen. Was just thinking the other day about cutting out our property management company because their work to cost ratio isn't worth it
    Seth C. Investor from Monterey, California
    Replied 11 months ago
    That funny! I was thinking of leaving the PM business for the same reason. I think sometimes we undervalue other peoples time. It really depends on how many units you have and where they are located. If it's long distance, anything more than two is going to be tough without a local PM. Possible, but tough. Local, you could scale up a lot depending on your appetite for dealing with very stupid calls from tenants and dealing their infighting etc. If you live in an area where prices are low enough that you can BRRRR easily, it is definitely worth it since you can move to full time investor role much more quickly. But it will never be enjoyable, so price in future PM for when you have reached success.
    Sonja Sevcik
    Replied 11 months ago
    Seth, I manage 5 houses and a 4-plex - all out of state. I love my tenants and knock on wood they have all been excellent. After growing the # of units over the last 6 years, I have pretty excellent trades-folks. I love them too. Sometimes they are a bit more expensive but they know me well, now, and always come through for me. My gardener has been with me for over 6 years and he is my eyes and ears on the ground. I visit the units three to four times a year, generally, when I have a vacancy and one or two times to perform annual improvements. When I can't show an empty unit I just hire a young real estate agent to help me and negotiate a fee. I've only had to do that 2 times in over six years - and that was when I was working as a property manager in my local area. There are tricks to staying up on your out-of-state market but if you love real estate and your out-of-state location - - - it is very doable. Albeit, I do hope to relocate to this location in 5 to 10 years.
    Nia Laing from ATL
    Replied 8 months ago
    Interesting perspective, Sonja! May I ask, what's your quick piece of advice for securing good tenants and building strong relationships (with tradespeople, gardener, etc.)? Also, would you say that the location plays a role in the general vibe of the people? (for example, a place full of tenants who want to retire/relax vs. college/party town)
    Deanne Bourne Investor from Concord, California
    Replied 11 months ago
    Great article Scott. I have a side hustle NEED now. My Airbnbs are in 3 states along with my long termed rentals. I need someone to add me together with other Airbnb hosts and change l light bulb, drop off some bottles of water, extra TP , replace a comforter, accept a new mattress, inspect for damaged sheets or any number of other simple tasks. It just seems if you had 40-50 clients you could be busy all the time.
    Scott Johnson Specialist from Greenville, NC
    Replied 11 months ago
    Hi Deanne, I what areas are your Airbnb's in? I would love to be able to help. I am in Greenville NC area. Do you know how I would advertise to help others manage their Airbnb's in my area? Appreciate it!! La Rita Johnson 252-814-1627
    Doug Leedy Investor from Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Replied 11 months ago
    I was in the industry for 45+ years. I've been a full-time agent, an appraiser and lately, an investor. The biggest mistake I made was NOT investing in the very industry in which I made my living. I started to, but in my small town rural market that meant being a landlord...and I hated that. So, being young and dumb, I said I'd never do that again. BIG mistake. Now it is easier than ever to become an investor. There are so many ways to do it (flipping, wholesaling, tax liens, buying notes and mortgages, rental or commercial properties) and so many ways to do it using technology that any agent who doesn't is really missing the boat. It's a way to diversify your income WITHIN your industry. I just wish this had been available when I got my real estate license at age 27. Do yourself a favor. Protect yourself from the down times.
    Brody Hough-Oakes
    Replied 11 months ago
    how do you protect yourself from the down times?\
    Jason Tressler Real Estate Agent from Indianapolis, IN
    Replied 11 months ago
    he just told you, invest in RE, diversify and use all the tools we have now - and that he DID NOT when he entered the business.
    Joy Schopp
    Replied 11 months ago
    Where do i get started legitimately as a profitable VA?
    Joy Schopp
    Replied 11 months ago
    where do I legitimately start as a profitable VA?
    Haven M. Lender from Newburyport, MA
    Replied 11 months ago
    I started a real estate related side hustle back in November working with an interest cancelling software program. It's turned out to be much more interesting and financially rewarding than I expected. I had originally thought I would just be getting some investors to use the program, but I realized that it's a program every home owner should be using and things are starting to snowball a little. Making some money while creating connections in the real estate world is looking like solid combo for a side gig.
    Jason Tressler Real Estate Agent from Indianapolis, IN
    Replied 11 months ago
    Haven do tell more !!!
    Nadia Elabbar
    Replied 11 months ago
    Hi Haven, I love your name. your sidehustle sounds interesting. I would like to mimic you. How do i do that? Many thanks in advance.Nadia
    David Salomaa
    Replied 11 months ago
    Haven, can you tell us more?! Thanks! Anna
    Jennifer Bennett
    Replied 11 months ago
    Hey! Haven, I would like to hear more details on your side hustle?
    Anne Nguyen Investor
    Replied 8 months ago
    Thank you and very helpful.
    Menley Robinson
    Replied 8 months ago
    Ok so I manage four airbnb properties and there are days when there’s nothing to do and very busy days. But I’m primarily getting paid to be available almost 24-7 to guests and potential guests and that’s very valuable.
    Robyn Mancell
    Replied 8 months ago
    I think solar is the perfect side hustle that fits quite nicely with real estate. I just had a roofing company contact me about partnering in Solar. The great part is I do the work, they make a nice part of the commissions. Even with the pandemic, we're doing our presentations on Zoom and solar installs are essential workers.
    Sonya Braddock
    Replied 8 months ago
    @Robyn Mancell. I've thought about solar as well. Can you provide more information?
    Kalvin Wilburn Investor from Guam
    Replied 8 months ago
    @Robyn Mancell I'm intrigued at your suggestion. Can you offer additional information? Specifically, how does one 'do solar' as a side hustle? Thanks!
    Andrew Smith Investor from Valencia, California
    Replied 8 months ago
    Many solar companies have referral programs. In our case we have an Ambassador program that pays $1000 from a referral for a homeowner when the panels install that is tracked through a free website build for Ambassadors. If someone were more involved with our sales, the amount rises to an average of $3500. In either case, it is for a referral, rather than a deep involvement and as such is relatively a very easy "side hustle" as the sales process itself is handled by others. All of our Ambassadors and many of our Consultants are part-time and our systems are set up that way. I am sure @Robyn Mancell has similar too.
    Adrian Ayub
    Replied 8 months ago
    Surplus funds has been the best side hustle for me
    Mitch Mangum Realtor from Houston, TX
    Replied 8 months ago
    Great article Scott!
    Marwan Sallam
    Replied 7 months ago
    Very Insightful, thanks Scott1