Interested in getting a slice of the real estate pie via a profitable side hustle but tired of hearing the same recommendations to do Airbnb? We consulted industry pros to get you the fresh new ideas you need.
Up ahead, you'll find 15 creative real estate side hustle ideas you can use to get into the world of real estate (or strengthen an already established portfolio).
15 Real Estate Side Hustle Ideas
Ready to find your new real estate side hustle? Take inspiration from these 15 expert-approved ideas.
1. Bird Dogging
No, this doesn't involve creating some sort of dog-bird hybrid à la Victor Frankenstein. Instead, it involves helping investors find valuable properties.
As New England Home Buyers CEO Shad Elia explains, "Real estate investors are constantly hunting for off-market offers that the general public is not yet aware of."
To help, "anyone who is out and about, such as drivers, delivery persons and others with free time, can keep an eye out for real estate that meets an investor's needs."
Those people are known as bird dogs after the trained dogs tasked with finding fallen birds for hunters.
"While some bird dogs are compensated for each lead," Elia says, "others take a cut of the proceeds when a sale is closed."
Want to become a bird dog? Start hunting for undervalued properties in your area and networking with local real estate investors (you can do so on Facebook, LinkedIn or in person).
Once you have a few potential properties in mind, reach out to investors and ask them if they'd be interested in exchanging a fee for leads. Remember to have a contract on hand in case they agree — there are several free templates available online.
2. Flipping Houses
Thanks to HGTV, most people have heard of house flipping before. But what you might not know is that it doesn't have to be a full-time gig.
"For those whose day jobs demand them to be on the go," Elia explains, "house flipping makes a good real estate side business." That's because it's "simpler to meet with the handymen and contractors who will perform the actual renovation work while they are already in the field."
And while "flipping houses does cost more money than some other side hustles, it may be very worthwhile when everything goes according to plan."
So if you have some funds to invest and plan on targeting an area where flip-friendly houses are available, house flipping might be the side hustle for you.
3. Virtually Assist Realtors
Want a side hustle that can help you learn about the world of real estate without investing a whole lot of time or money? You may want to consider becoming a virtual assistant for realtors.
Robert Warner, head of marketing at VirtualValley, explains that virtual assistants do everything "from monitoring schedules and providing reminders to creating trip arrangements via the internet."
"As a virtual assistant in the real estate industry," he goes on to say, "you can help realtors stay on top of their schedules and meet with clients on time." Alternatively, "you can also work for a real estate company and provide virtual tours for clients."
And "although virtual assistants don't [typically] make a lot of money, they can work whenever and wherever they want." So "with this side hustle, you can earn some extra money anytime you have some spare time."
4. Become a Notary
It's no secret that real estate involves a great deal of paperwork.
"The majority of leases and sales purchase documents need to be notarized in order to be considered legally binding documents," says Gina Baker, real estate analyst and expert at Fit Small Business.
Luckily, "becoming a notary is a simple and inexpensive process that can become a lucrative side hustle."
And "while you are bound to charge only a certain amount of money," such as "$2 for administering an oath or affirmation in NYC," the good news is that "traveling notaries can charge additional funds to reimburse for their mileage, time" and other expenses.
To begin your real estate notary side hustle, get in touch with nearby brokerages and realtors to find out if they could use a notary's services. If they answer in the affirmative, research how to become a notary in your state and begin the application process.
5. Be a Referral Agent
Baker also emphasizes that a "referral business is a very easy way to make a passive income [as a realtor], especially if you have a large client base and real estate professional network."
Here's how it works: "If you have clients that are moving to areas that you don’t service, make connections with agents in that area and refer your client to them." Yep, it's that simple.
But how much can referral agents make? "Typically," Baker says, "referrals can earn the referral agent 25-35 percent of the commission without having to lift a finger. Just make sure to complete the proper documentation in order to guarantee you’ll be paid."
6. Purchase Investment Property
How does it sound to get hundreds or even thousands of dollars in passive income each month? If you purchase an investment property and rent it out, that's exactly what you can have.
Baker is a big fan of this idea, too: "Even though real estate agents are always helping other people get properties," she says, that "doesn’t mean that they can’t purchase their own."
From a single-family home in need of renovation to a turnkey property to a multi-unit building, the type of property you purchase is up to you.
Next, "find qualified renters that can live in the property as well as a property manager or property management software to monitor the property," so "you can sit back and enjoy the profits."
Famed real estate mogul Louis Glickman once said that "the best investment on Earth is earth."
Brian Davis, real estate investor and founder of Spark Rental, seems to agree. "As a cheap, relatively simple real estate side hustle," he told us, "you can flip land parcels."
"It sounds complicated, but it's just a matter of sending out mailers to land owners in a given county [containing] a cash offer a fraction of the market value," he explained. "Inevitably, a small percentage will get back to you; just looking for a quick cash buyout."
The best part? "Often, you can buy these parcels for under $1,000, making it an affordable way to get into real estate investing. You [can] then turn around and list the parcel for sale on land websites for its full market value."
So if you're looking for a real estate side hustle that requires a small initial investment and doesn't involve working for someone else, land flipping may be the gig for you.
8. Real Estate Wholesaling
According to Davis, "another affordable avenue is real estate wholesaling. It involves putting properties under contract for a bargain price, then flipping that contract to another real estate investor for a small margin above your original contract price."
Need an example? No problem. Let's say "you find a property worth $100,000 that you put under contract for $75,000. You assign that contract to another investor for $80,000, so you earn a $5,000 margin and the investor still buys the property at a $20,000 discount."
With this side hustle, "the only money you need is the earnest money deposit, which is often as little as a few hundred dollars."
9. Thinking Outside the House
From mobile homes to townhouses to condos, there are plenty of affordable rental properties other than houses, Davis says.
So if you want to start investing in real estate but don't want to (or can't) purchase a stand-alone house just yet, any of those options might provide the ideal solution.
As an added bonus, affordable properties also tend to involve less work in terms of renovation and maintenance. After all, it's a lot easier to remodel a 1,000-square foot mobile home than it is to renovate a house double that size.
Similarly, most condos are part of complexes that handle landscaping and grounds maintenance for you, which means no grass to water and no weeds to pull.
10. House Hacking
Want to make money from real estate while living in your own home for free? Davis recommends house hacking.
Traditionally, that means "buying a multi-family property with a conventional mortgage, moving into one unit, and renting out the others." In this way, "the income from the neighboring units counts toward your debt-to-income ratio when qualifying for the mortgage." As such, "it's a great way to get started in rental investing."
There are also several alternative house hacking methods, including renting out a spare room, a parking space in your garage or even storage space in your shed.
Evaluate your living and financial situation to determine which option is best for you, then get ready to start earning passive income from your new house hacking hustle.
11. REIT Investing
If you're more comfortable buying and selling stocks than you are remodeling houses, you might want to look into real estate investment trusts (REITs).
Lattice Hudson, business coach, leadership mentor and founder of Lattice & Co., told us why: "REITs are traded publicly through your regular brokerage account or retirement account, which means they are subject to SEC regulation."
In other words, "they are reliable assets that allow anyone to enter the real estate market with a minimal investment."
And since REITs have high liquidity and can be bought and sold like stocks, they offer "an excellent way to get your feet wet in real estate."
Think of it this way: When you invest in REITs, "you don't just buy a house. Instead," Hudson explains, "you're putting your money into a fund that you may use to buy and manage properties throughout the world, putting your capital to work on hundreds or even thousands of homes and real estate projects."
12. Rental Arbitrage
You might have already heard about retail arbitrage, but what about rental arbitrage?
It works in much the same way as its retail counterpart, but instead of buying and reselling items, you simply rent a property for the long term and then rent it out for the short term.
For example, you could sign a one- or two-year lease on a house and then rent it out over the summer to vacationing tourists. Alternatively, you could rent a three-bedroom apartment and rent out two of the rooms while living in the third.
Just be sure that the rental contract you sign doesn't prohibit subletting; otherwise, you might find yourself in legal hot water.
13. Become a Property or Resident Manager
Want to get a taste of what it's like to be a landlord but don't feel ready to purchase a multi-family building quite yet? You might want to consider becoming a property or resident manager.
With this side hustle, you'll either live on- or off-site and perform duties like maintaining the property, helping tenants solve problems, arranging utilities, showing new tenants around and more.
In most cases, being a property or resident manager is not a full-time position, at least when you're just getting started. So, that makes it a perfect candidate for a side hustle.
This option can also work out well if you're looking to save money on rent — many property management companies offer rent discounts to on-site resident managers, often with no prior experience required.
14. Renting Out Raw Land
Did you know that you don't need to own a traditional house in order to make money on short-term rentals? Thanks to Airbnb-esque marketplaces like Hipcamp, it's true.
There, you can rent out a cabin, treehouse, RV site or just raw land to people looking to camp somewhere safe and unique.
Starting a listing is free on Hipcamp, and the platform also offers a $1 million insurance policy so you can enjoy a stress-free side hustle.
15. Photographing Properties
There are many different people involved in the sale of a property other than real estate agents, including photographers.
So if you're a photographer looking for another income stream or want to get into the world of real estate but aren't sure how becoming a real estate photographer might be the perfect path for you.
To start, you'll need to have a high-quality camera. Practice by taking pictures of your own home and even the homes of your friends and family. Once you feel comfortable taking and editing photos, get in touch with local real estate agents to offer your services.
Your Real Estate Side Hustle Questions, Answered
Getting into real estate can be intimidating, so you probably have plenty of questions before getting started. Here are answers to a few of the most common.
Is Real Estate a Good Side Hustle?
You've just read about 15 stellar real estate side hustle ideas, so you probably already know the answer. But just in case you're still unsure, yes! Real estate can be a fantastic side hustle.
And with so many options available, you're sure to find one that fits your needs, whether you prefer a hands-on approach, hands-off approach or something in between.
How Can I Make Passive Income?
While the world of real estate is full of opportunities to make passive income, one of the best ones is undoubtedly by renting out a property (or even space in your own home).
And if you're looking for the most passive approach possible, you can even have a property management company handle finding and signing tenants in exchange for a cut of the rent. It doesn't get much more hands-off than that.
How Does a Side Hustle in Real Estate Make Money?
Real estate side hustles can make money from a variety of sources, including:
Rent from tenants
Commissions from other investors
Referral fees from real estate agents
Sales of REIT shares
And much, much more
The exact way in which your real estate side hustle makes money depends upon the specific one you choose.
Want to know more about what it takes to start a side hustle and find out if a real estate side hustle is right for you? Download our free side hustle checklist now.
Carrie Buchholz-Powers is a Colorado-based writer who’s been creating content since 2013. From digital marketing to ecommerce to land conservation, she has experience in a wide range of fields and loves learning about them all. Carrie is fond of history, animals and beauty in equal measure. In her free time, she enjoys knitting, playing video games and exploring Colorado's prairies and mountains with her husband.