20 real estate side hustle ideas to earn extra income

The pandemic has had a serious impact on household incomes, causing many people to look for creative ways to make extra money on the side. If you’ve been thinking about looking for a side hustle, real estate just might be the ideal business to offer a part-time gig in.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to make extra money in real estate and examine 20 real estate side hustles you can do in your spare time.

Key takeaways

  • A real estate side hustle is an activity, gig, investment, or part-time business that people use to generate extra income.
  • Side hustles are ideal for people who already have a full-time job or occupation.
  • Real estate side hustles to consider include real estate bird dogging, rental arbitrage, real estate bookkeeping, and affiliate marketing.



couple making real estate deal

What is a real estate side hustle?

A real estate side hustle is a secondary gig, activity, business, or investment that generates income from real estate while having another full-time ‘day job.’ Some examples of real estate side hustles include:

  • An everyday homeowner who does the occasional short-term vacation rental of a spare bedroom or the entire house.
  • A restaurant worker who sits at open houses on the weekends, which in some states does not require a real estate license.
  • A person who keeps an eye out for abandoned property for real estate investors in exchange for a referral fee.
  • Teachers who spend their summers working as an administrative assistant for a real estate agent.
  • Millennials and Gen-Zs who invest dividend-paying REITs and real estate stocks online to help save for a down payment to buy a home.

That’s just 5 quick and easy examples. The truth is, literally anyone can have a real estate hide hustle by getting creative and thinking outside of the box.


20 real estate side hustles

One of the reasons real estate makes a great side hustle is because there are so many ways to get involved in the business. Here are 20 real estate side hustles that you can begin working on as soon as you finish reading this post.

1. REIT investing

Investing in a real estate investment trust (REIT) can be a good real estate side hustle with the potential to generate attractive recurring income and dividends. Public REITs are traded on the major exchanges just like stocks and bonds, and are a good way to invest in different real estate asset classes in different parts of the country. High yield REITs that pay dividends of 7% or more are in the mortgage, commercial real estate, and healthcare sectors.

2. Single-family rental

One of the most traditional real estate side hustles today is buying and owning a single-family rental home. Looking at the recent numbers, it’s easy to understand why. According to CoreLogic, single-family rent prices have nearly doubled, with Sun Belt cities like Miami, Phoenix, and Las Vegas seeing year-over-year rent increases of 15% or more.

3. House hacking

House hacking is taking – or hacking – part of a home you already occupy and renting it out to generate extra income. By finding a roommate, renting out part of the garage or basement as storage space, or pet sitting in the backyard, a homeowner can earn extra money.

4. Vacation rental

In some locales, using a primary residence as a short-term or vacation rental has the potential to generate serious money. That’s because people from out of town often look for an alternative to an expensive hotel room and welcome the experience of living where the locals do.

5. Rental arbitrage

Rental arbitrage is a variation on the “buy low, sell high” real estate investing strategy, except you don’t have to actually own a home. Instead, the rental arbitrage side hustle involves signing a long-term lease on a place, then renting it out by the week or month, and profiting on the difference.

6. Property manager

There’s no rule that says a property manager has to take care of 100s of rentals all at the same time. With a trusted handyman, and good people skills to keep tenants happy, a part time property manager can operate on autopilot while collecting a monthly management fee of about 8% of the monthly rent. Most states require property managers to be licensed, however.

7. Bird dog

Active real estate investors are always looking for off market deals that the general public doesn’t yet know about. Anyone who is out and about – like drivers, delivery people, and anyone with spare time on their hands – can keep an eye out (or bird dog) for property that matches an investor’s requirements. Some bird dogs get paid per lead, while others share in the profits when a deal closes.

8. Real estate agent (part time)

Getting a real estate license costs around $1,000 or less, according to Realtor.com, and no college education or professional degree is required. That’s a pretty small price to pay to receive a 3% commission or more every time you sell a home. Many real estate firms don’t require their agents to work full-time, which can make getting a license one of the most potentially profitable real estate side hustles around.

9. House flipper

House flipping as a real estate side hustle is a good fit for people with a regular job that requires them to be out and about. Being already ‘in the field’ makes it easier to meet with contractors and handymen who will do the actual rehab work. Flipping homes does require more cash than some other side gigs, but can well be worth the time and effort when a flip goes according to plan.

10. Wholesaler

Real estate wholesaling is a variation on the house flipping strategy. But, instead of closing escrow, doing repairs, and reselling the home, a wholesaler flips the purchase and sale agreement to another investor to do the heavy lifting in exchange for a wholesale fee. Real estate wholesaling requires a license in several states.

11. Raw land

Raw land can be an attractive real estate side hustle to consider because you avoid the three Ts of tenants, termites, and toilets. All an investor normally has to do with raw land is pay the property taxes and visit the property periodically to make sure that squatters don’t settle in. Buying and holding raw land in the path of progress or renting the land out for camping or recreational use are two ways to generate some side income from land.

12. Bookkeeping

Successful real estate investors know how to crunch the numbers when they buy or sell. But when it comes to doing the books they generally turn the task over to someone else. The beauty of bookkeeping as a real estate side hustle is that you don’t have to be a CPA or even have an accounting degree. Free rental property financial software from Stessa automates income and expense tracking, which makes running reports a breeze.

13. Photographer

If you’re already a great photographer, taking pictures and videos of property just might be an ideal real estate side hustle. One of the nice things about real estate photography is working with both residential and commercial property at any time of the day or night. Being a photographer can also offer the opportunity for a consistent income stream, because each time a property is listed, photos need to be taken.

woman smiling at laptop computer

14. Content writing

Freelance writers who focus on the real estate industry may find themselves with more business than they can handle. Two good marketplaces to find clients are Upwork and Guru. Real estate professionals need a tremendous amount of content, including blog posts, in-depth research articles, and copywriting for real estate websites.

15. Social media

Social media is one of the most influential marketing tools that many real estate professionals simply don’t have the time to use. Keeping content flowing to social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn can generate recurring income for real estate social media consultants.

16. Marketing

After paying for photography, content writing, and social media, real estate professionals still need someone to put everything together in an effective marketing campaign. Marketing as a real estate side hustle is something that can be done at any time of the day or night from a computer, making the gig a good choice for people who like to choose when and how they work.

17. Affiliate marketing

If you already have a website with a lot of traffic or a big social media following, affiliate marketing may be a good real estate side hustle to generate revenue that can quickly add up. Single-family rental homes are a hot investment, and the Roofstock Affiliate Program is a great way to get paid for letting your audience know more about single-family rentals. However, affiliate marketers are expected to be familiar with and comply with state and federal laws, including Fair Housing, Truth in Advertising, CAN SPAM, and other laws, as well as Endorsement and Testimonial Guides

18. Virtual assistant

Busy real estate professionals simply don’t have the time to handle the everyday tasks to keep their business running smooth. If you’re organized, detail-oriented, and like dealing with people, consider becoming a virtual assistant. Typical tasks include answering incoming phone calls on Zoom or Skype, replying to emails and maintenance requests, keeping calendars in-sync, coordinating property showings, and filing documents.

19. Notary

Notaries provide a wide variety of services that real estate practitioners need, such as witnessing document signings, certifying copies, and administering oaths. The rules to become a notary vary from state to state. In general, a notary must be of legal age, be an American citizen, and be a legal resident of the state that notary services will be provided in. 

20. Crowdfunding

Real estate crowdfunding platforms raise money from large numbers of investors to invest in high-profile projects like single-family subdivisions, apartment buildings, shopping centers and office buildings, and mixed-use developments. Depending on the deal, distributions are paid out monthly, quarterly, or annually (if the project is successful) along with a share of the profits when the project is sold. However, unlike publicly-traded REITs, money invested in a crowdfund may be difficult to withdraw prior to the planned redemption period.


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This article, and the Roofstock Blog in general, is intended for informational and educational purposes only, and is not investment, tax, financial planning, legal, or real estate advice. Roofstock is not your advisor or agent. Please consult your own experts for advice in these areas. Although Roofstock provides information it believes to be accurate, Roofstock makes no representations or warranties about the accuracy or completeness of the information contained on this blog.
Jeff Rohde


Jeff Rohde

Jeff has over 25 years of experience in all segments of the real estate industry including investing, brokerage, residential, commercial, and property management. While his real estate business runs on autopilot, he writes articles to help other investors grow and manage their real estate portfolios.

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