25+ Ways to Make Money as a Real Estate Agent
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You already know the ways to make money buying and selling real estate. That’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about the many ways you can make money on the side. As a real estate agent, you have connections and skills you can easily leverage into entirely new income streams. Without quitting your day job. In fact, when done right, these ways to make money can simultaneously increase your brokerage business.
Before we jump in, let’s quickly go over the criteria for what makes a good income stream.
What Makes a Good Income Stream?
Again, let’s be clear: we’re not looking to replace your day job. We’re looking to strengthen your position, your value, and your income at your day job.
And we’re not looking to get rich quick. We’re looking to strategically build additional income streams that will provide cash flow long into the future. It might start slow, but it will grow.
A good income stream is one that:
- Truly serves your clients and prospects; start with their needs
- Diversifies your income so you have some protection against changes in the real estate market
- Doesn’t take an unreasonable amount of time to start (though of course, they will all require some investment of time)
- Is fairly inexpensive to test and to start
- Can be managed relatively easily
Using this criteria as a guide, I’ve come up with a list of 26 income streams for your consideration. They’re broken up into four categories:
- Online Information
This post will cover each category in some detail.
Side-note: This might be the longest blog post you’ve ever read. It’s certainly the longest I’ve ever written. But it’s packed with useful information and actionable advice! You’re going to get a brief overview of the most lucrative income streams available to real estate agents. So settle in and get ready to make some money.
Ways to Make Money in Online Information
As the name implies, online information income is money received for providing information online. This includes mediums like blogging, YouTube, and podcasting.
Information is presented differently in each medium, but the income models are the same. They each offer income opportunities through:
Let’s quickly look at some different ways to make money in online information.
Blogging is a no-brainer for agents. If you don’t have a blog, you are at a disadvantage in today’s real estate industry. Let’s forget about the income-producing potential (for just a moment!), and look at one key reason to have a blog: the new generation of buyers and sellers expect it of their real estate agents.
How do current buyers and sellers find real estate agents? Google search.
A consistent, high-quality blog will raise you to the top of the Google search results. It will get you in front of more millennial eyes. Sure you can get by without millennials for now, but not for much longer. And the generation coming up behind them will expect even more of a web presence from their agents.
If you’re a forward-thinking agent, you’re going to start building that consistent, high-quality blog content now so you’ll be the #1 search result when the next generation is ready to buy.
Many agents mistakenly believe they must blog only about buying and selling real estate to be effective. Sure, that should be a part of your blog to showcase your knowledge and demonstrate your authority to prospects. But you can do a lot more with it. When you niche-down, you find ways to monetize your blog that you can’t achieve with basic buying-and-selling content.
For example: how about focusing on real estate investing? You could link to your favorite real estate investing books on Amazon for affiliate sales, sell ad space to brokers specializing in REITs, and promote your own products (eBooks or online courses) for investing in real estate.
Or focus on real estate flipping. Link to home improvement products for affiliate income, sell ad space to hardware retailers, and write sponsored product reviews of home improvement tools.
You can even use your niche topic to bring you more of the client type you most enjoy. The real estate investment niche could bring you repeat investment property buyers who could also use your property management services to handle tenants. The house-flipping niche could bring you repeat customers who both buy and sell from you!
One last blogging note: I hear from agents all the time who understand the importance of blogging, but don’t know what they could possibly write about week-in and week-out. If you’re struggling for some concrete blog topic ideas, help yourself to mine! Just enter your email below to get over 100 specific real estate blog post ideas delivered to your inbox.
Just like blog, a YouTube channel gives you a platform to generate income in multiple ways. You can earn money directly through affiliate links, ads, and sponsored posts. Or you can use YouTube as a launching point for your product or service sales. Or you can use it simply to serve your clients and attract new prospects.
Just as you niche-down with your blog, you should niche down with your YouTube channel. YouTube is the perfect vehicle for the home maintenance and repairs niche. You create step-by-step “how-to” videos for common home repairs. How to fix a leaky faucet, how to change an air filter, how to install a light fixture.
But don’t those videos already exist?
Yep, they sure do! Which proves that there’s money to be made there; people are actively seeking that information. So find a way to put a spin on your videos to make them stand out. Not to be sexist, but simply being a woman is an advantage in this niche. More single women are buying homes, and they want to know that women can handle home repairs. If 1 of the top 10 search results shows a woman rolling up her sleeves and unclogging that drain, which video do you think the average single woman will decide to watch?
Not lucky enough to be a woman? Spin your videos in your own way. Appeal to fellow Packer fans by always wearing your cheese head and jersey. You’ll stand out and be memorable.
Podcasting is the final income stream for online information income. You would niche-down in the same way as with blogs or YouTube. Focus on real estate investing, ownership, maintenance, or even real estate careers.
I’ll be perfectly honest. I have zero podcasting experience.
But I listen to them constantly. And the great thing about podcasts is that your audience doesn’t have to be sitting still to consume your information. They can be driving, walking, or cleaning the house. People choose podcasts over blogs and videos for that very reason. And compared to the number of bloggers and YouTube channels, there are many fewer podcasters to compete with.
You can still monetize in the same way as with blogs and YouTube, but everything will be audio. So you’ll need to spell out your affiliate links to your listeners (or refer them to the online show notes where you can link the affiliate product through your standard affiliate link).
You may even be able to land sponsors who will pay you to read off a radio-style commercial for their product during your podcast.
Ways to Make Money in Services
There are many great ways to create new income streams by providing services.
And services are a great option for agents because there are so many real estate-related service fields. In fact, many of these service side-hustles will work hand-in-hand with your real estate sales practice. You’ll be able to meet potential buyers and sellers through your service business who may become brokerage clients, and vice versa.
With all services, there are three ways to create income streams:
1.Do the work yourself and collect a reasonable fee for service.
2.Negotiate referral fees with existing businesses. You refer clients to existing service businesses, and in return the businesses pay you a small referral fee. Of course the referral fee relationship should always be disclosed to clients. And you should only refer clients to businesses you would use yourself.
3.Start a service business and hire contractors to complete the services on behalf of your company. This is much more scalable than doing the work yourself because services inevitably take time to complete. And your time is not only limited, but also incredibly valuable. This business model is typically the most profitable route, especially for time-consuming services.
A word of caution: When providing real-estate related services, always be aware of potential conflicts of interest and ethical issues that could arise from providing multiple services to your brokerage clients. And there are certain services implied in your role as a real estate agent (like advice on home-staging, pre-sale repairs, and home inspections). Never withhold this advice or base it on your ancillary service businesses.
So what service businesses are we talking about? Well, let’s explore some options.
Property Tax Appeals
Property Tax Appeals is a completely untapped agent revenue stream! And, depending on the market and your state property tax laws, you can make good money helping people appeal their property taxes.
It’s actually quite simple. Property taxes are usually based on the County Assessor’s estimation of the value of the property. But Assessors are often wrong because they apply broad value increase formulas by submarket (they can’t possibly value each property individually every year).
If the homeowner (or their representative – that could be you!) can show the County that the actual value of the property is less than the estimated value used to calculate their taxes, the homeowner will be granted a tax reduction.
So this really involves a simple property valuation (most states don’t even require an appraisal), which you could complete as a real estate professional, and presentation of your valuation findings to the county taxing authority. Quite often the value presentation can even be presented via email or phone call!
You can charge a flat fee for your services. But you’re often better off charging a percentage of the tax savings. Homeowners are much more likely to work with you if they can pay you out of their tax savings instead of paying you upfront.
The brilliance of adding this income stream to your business is that property tax appeals cycle inversely with real estate sales. When sales are up, there is less opportunity for tax appeals, but when sales are down because of a market downturn, tax appeals go through the roof!
I actually spent six years in property tax appeals, and I’m happy to provide more information if there is interest in this income stream. Check out my post on How to Make Money with Property Tax Appeals, and then contact me or leave a comment if you want to learn more about this opportunity.
New Home Photo Shoots
Millennials have photo shoots to mark every big life event: engagement, marriage, pregnancy, birth…What about a new home?
The new generation of buyers would absolutely be interested in a new home photo shoot. It could be anything from just a few shots of the buyers posing on the porch, accepting the keys, and walking in the front door. Or it could be a “moving day” shoot to capture the drama of actually moving into the home. Or a day-in-the-life shoot of the buyers doing domestic things like cooking and gardening.
You may already have some decent photography skills from shooting photos for your listings. Or you know a professional photographer you could partner with.
To learn more, check out How to Make Money with New Home Photo Shoots.
You know how important staging is to home sales. And even if you’re not a skilled decorator or designer, you know how to stage a home to sell.
You also know that many sellers struggle with appropriate staging. This is a perfect opportunity to earn a fee for your time spent staging the house while simultaneously increasing your commission when the house sells for more than it would otherwise. The seller also benefits from the higher sales price and less time on the market.
As a general rule, staging information should be included in your role as real estate agent. But when you start laboring (or hiring laborers) to move furniture, take things to storage, paint, hang wall art, or rent furniture and accessories for a vacant space, you’re perfectly entitled to a staging fee.
Home Repairs and Maintenance
You know more about home repair and maintenance than the average homeowner. And you probably know some reliable handymen. This information can bring you a nice little income stream in the home repair and maintenance arena.
There may not be a ton of money to be made in notary services, but it’s fairly easy and inexpensive to become a notary. So it’s a nice and simple starter income stream.
Guide to Local Experiences
Providing local experiences is a cool new way to make money in today’s gig economy. It often takes the form of personal tour guide. Tourists will pay decent money for a unique travel experience. It could be:
Since you already like people and are used to showing people around, adding this income stream should be easy and fun for you.
And it’s not crazy to think these tourists might have such a great time that they decide to buy a vacation home in your city. And which agent do you think they’d contact to help them with the purchase? Right.
To learn more about adding this income stream to your business, check out our post, How to Make Money Creating Local Experiences for Tourists.
Do you love to write in your down time? Consider expanding your real estate business by selling your writing services to companies in adjacent industries! Write articles for mortgage companies, contractors, or national real estate publications! You’ll increase your market authority and online profile while earning a side income.
On the flip-side, if you dread writing content, even for your own real estate blog, hire me to do it! I’ve helped multiple agents increase their Google rank by creating high-quality blog content for consistent publication. And I have multiple content solutions to fit any budget!
Managing flips is a difficult gig to land, but a great way to increase your income if you can pull it off!
You’d need to find a hands-off investor, build a relationship through multiple deals, and lead them to some profitable flips. Now most people who invest in flips like to do some of the work themselves and even have a real estate license so they can save on the commission. So to make this work, you would need to find out-of-state investors, or investors who are completely uninterested in the process itself, and happy to hand the reins to you as the experienced professional.
As a flipping manager, you will make a commission on both the purchase and the sale, plus a fee on the management of the flip. Negotiate a flat fee or a percentage of the profit.
Side note: if you’ve flipped a house, you know how time-consuming the management is. To be successful in this income stream, you would need to create a management business and hire help.
Rental Property Management
With many millennials opting to rent instead of buy, there is a growing number of SFRs being used as rental properties. And more and more absentee owners in need of property management services.
You may already have experience with property management, but for those who aren’t familiar with it, it basically involves:
- Marketing properties for rent
- Touring properties with prospective tenants
- Screening tenants
- Drafting leases
- Collecting rents
- Scheduling maintenance and repairs
- Negotiating renewals
- Addressing any tenant issues
- Handling any eviction proceedings (if it ever comes to that)
- Managing move-outs and return of deposits
- Making properties ready for new tenants
In an ideal world, you find great tenants, spend a little time on the paperwork upfront, then sit back and watch the rent money roll in online every month for multiple years with just a couple minor maintenance issues scattered in there.
Believe it or not, that’s been my personal experience so far. But it’s only been two properties over two years, and I’m smart enough to know it won’t always be this good. So I’m going to enjoy it while it is! Because for now, this is easy money.
Fees are nearly always a percentage of the rent. It varies by market of course, but 5% is fairly standard for year-round management. Then there’s usually an additional fee for finding new tenants; 50% of the first month’s rent is typical in many markets.
It just takes a little organization to stay on top of your portfolio, so make sure you invest in some inexpensive, but effective, property management software.
Landscape Design and Maintenance
There is a great opportunity for a landscape design and maintenance income stream for higher-end real estate. Many owners just don’t have the time or desire to mow, rake, trim, and plant. Or God-forbid, shovel.
So offer them reliable, high-quality landscape maintenance services.
Or help them add curb appeal by designing an inviting front yard landscape. They get more enjoyment from the property while increasing the property’s value, and you have a new income stream.
Painting always sounds easier and more fun than it actually is. Once your homeowners try to paint just one room and realize how miserable it is, you can offer your painting services to finish the house for them.
Cleaning can be a weekly gig or more of a make-ready gig for your investor-owners who need help turning units over for new tenants.
Have a seller that really needs to replace the roof to get top dollar? How great would it be to offer your roofing services to them? The seller gets a roofing company owned by someone they trust, and you get the added income.
I imagine you’re very familiar with the home inspection process. Have you ever thought about getting certified as an inspector? To avoid conflicts of interest, you could focus your inspection business on a different property type than your brokerage business.
Real Estate Appraisal
Or how about getting certified as an Appraiser? If you love the number-crunching side of real estate, appraisal work could be a great fit for you.
Ways to Make Money in Products
Selling products is a fantastic income stream because it’s so passive. Once the product is created and posted online for sale, you can earn money round the clock with minimal active management. Make money while I sleep? Yes, please.
I’m going to guess that you have acquired some serious real estate knowledge and insight in your time as a real estate professional. Package that knowledge in an eBook and sell it!
But aren’t there literally thousands of books on real estate already on the market?
Yep, so you know there’s a market for them. You just need to make yours stand out. Niche-down and write for one specific group.
You might be wondering why I keep saying to niche-down. Why not try to appeal to a wider audience to increase your chances of a sale? It’s because, as you know, there’s a lot of competition in real estate publishing. Instead of competing with all the big players before you’ve had a chance to make a name for yourself, get some small wins and build your brand until you can legitimately compete with them.
Let’s say I’m a recent college grad with an interest in real estate investing, but minimal savings and a bunch of student loan debt. I have a choice between 2 books: Real Estate Investing for Dummies or Investing in Real Estate with No Savings, No Experience, and No Idea How to Pay Your Student Loan Debt. Which book will I choose? The one that speaks directly to me of course. You may be marketing to a smaller group, but you’ll convert a higher percentage of that group into buyers.
You can sell exclusively through your own website or get more eyes on your product by self publishing on Amazon.com.
Courses offer a different way to package and present your knowledge. They also provide an opportunity to charge more than an eBook because they are more involved. And they allow you to support your students through the steps required to learn the material you’re teaching.
You have valuable skills and knowledge worth passing along! Share it with the world and add an income stream in the process.
Learn More: How to Create Online Real Estate Courses
Real Estate Stock Photography
Have you ever had to select images for a website, mailer, or social media post? Someone took that photo, and they most likely make a little money every time it sells. You could do the same.
Selling stock photos online isn’t a get rich quick scheme. It takes some time to build a sizeable bank of images and for your photos to gain momentum. But once they do, it’s basically free money.
I’m playing around with this income stream now, but haven’t committed much time or effort to it. I’ve spent probably 3 hours signing up as a “contributor” on different stock photo sites, uploading a dozen images, and tagging them all with keywords (super important to get your images found!). So far I’ve sold the same photo 5 times for a total income of…drumroll please…$3.50.
$0.86 per hour isn’t a great pay rate. But I don’t have toWays to Make Money in Products
invest any additional time or energy in those photos. And they’ll continue to earn money on their own. The more photos I upload, the better this rate will ultimately get.
Again, this is highly competitive, so niche-down to find your specific audience.
Have some photos to sell? Get started today on these platforms (sign up with multiple platforms to reach a greater audience).
Learn more: How to Make Money Selling Stock Photos Online
If you’ve worked with first time homeowners, you know they usually buy a starter home requiring some fixes, and they don’t have the money (or need, really) to buy expensive DIY equipment, so they head to Home Depot and rent it.
Why not offer to rent your tools and equipment to them? In my experience, the rentals at Home Depot are often in poor condition, too expensive, and sometimes not even available for weeks at a time. You can provide a better rental experience!
I suppose equipment rental could be considered a service or a product. It’s not as passive as the other products we’ve discussed, but you have the added benefit of earning money on the same piece of equipment over and over.
Just for the love of God, make sure you get their credit card on file for a healthy deposit in case they somehow destroy your equipment.
Learn more: How to Make Money Renting Out Tools and Equipment
Ways to Make Money in Investments
The final category of income to cover is investment income. We’ll focus on real estate investments like REITs, rental property ownership (long-term rentals and vacation rentals), and flipping, but let’s not overlook the dull-but-wise index funds.
Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) are the easiest and, arguably, safest way to invest in real estate. They’re ideal for beginners.
REITs work a bit like mutual funds. They allow you to buy a small ownership stake of multiple real estate ventures. So you can be a real estate investor without putting up a large amount of money or taking on debt.
REITs are required by law to maintain dividend payout ratios of at least 90%. This guaranteed dividend payout makes REITs ideal for investors looking for cash flow. And many REITs offer the option to reinvest those dividends so they compound over time.
Long-term Rental Properties
Long-term rentals are my personal favorite investment. Why? Because they’re relatively passive and because you make money in four different ways!
- Renters are paying down your debt
- Renters are also putting money in your pocket
- Tax breaks
With only two properties in my current rental portfolio, I’m still pocketing nearly $1,000/month. But the real win has been in terms of growing my net worth. The two properties have increased in value by a total of $431,000 in just a few years!
There are hundreds of resources for investing in real estate, but my favorite is The Millionaire Real Estate Investor by Gary Keller. This is the book that got me started in real estate investing. It’s simple enough for anyone to pick up, but thorough enough to guide investors to netting millions.
Sidenote: If you haven’t already read The Millionaire Real Estate Agent (also by Gary Keller), I highly recommend that as well. It provides step-by-step instructions to take your real estate business from a single-person enterprise to a team-based empire.
Learn more: Top 10 Real Estate Investing Tips for New Investors
Vacation rentals demand much higher rates than long-term rentals, but there are trade-offs:
You’ll need to fully furnish the property (even down to dishes and linens)
The property is exposed to greater wear-and-tear with vacationers being notoriously messy and careless with the furnishings
It requires more active involvement because of frequent turnover. You’ll need to have a reliable cleaning/laundering service
Utility costs are the owner’s responsibility and your vacationers will likely not use water and electricity sparingly
You will have greater periods of vacancy, during which you won’t be earning any income
Despite all those negatives, vacation rentals can be highly lucrative, especially if your rental is well-located in a tourist destination. Ideally, you’ll be able to rent the property for a week at a time with minimal off-season.
Learn more: The Ultimate Guide to Vacation Property Investing
In the right market conditions, flipping houses is an investor’s dream. In the wrong conditions, it’s a nightmare. You know the drill: buy low, renovate, sell high. Flipping is a highly active investment, taking substantial time to locate the right property, close the purchase, renovate, find a buyer, and close the sale. I’ll confess, I’ve never done it. I don’t think I have the temperament to weather the stress. For those who do, and who are willing to take the risk, the payoff can be great. The last income stream we’ll cover is not-at-all glamorous or exciting, but it is as passive as it gets, and relatively safe. I’m talking about index funds. Index funds are a special type of mutual fund. In a nutshell, they are baskets of investments (like stocks or bonds). When you buy a share of an index fund, you’re automatically investing in a bunch of different companies or organizations instead of putting all your eggs in one basket. Index funds = automatic diversification! And you can achieve great returns from Index Funds if you invest for the long-term. The S&P 500 Index, for example, has averaged annual returns of about 11.69% from 1973 – 2016. Of course some years are great and some aren’t. In 2008 for example, the values actually dropped by 37% because of the recession. But they rebounded with an increase of about 26.5% in 2009 and another 15.1% in 2010. So be prepared to wait out any market downturns to realize strong gains over time. Since publishing this post back in 2017, we’ve gotten an education in the many, varied ways to make money through real estate investments! For more, check out 18 Different Ways to Invest in Real Estate. Great victories are made possible by small wins. Before you move on with the rest of your day, get a small win! Your Small Win Challenge is to choose one (just one!) income stream to seriously research. Then commit to actually doing it. Show your commitment by leaving a comment to let me know which income stream you chose. Your feedback will also help me tailor future posts to topics that most interest you. You can get an additional small win today by joining the Real Estate Side Hustles Community! We publish great new content every week to help real estate professionals like you create and manage multiple income streams. Get inspired with new money-making ideas and get the details on putting these ideas into action.
Update: More Investment Income Streams
Get a Small Win
In the right market conditions, flipping houses is an investor’s dream. In the wrong conditions, it’s a nightmare.
You know the drill: buy low, renovate, sell high. Flipping is a highly active investment, taking substantial time to locate the right property, close the purchase, renovate, find a buyer, and close the sale.
I’ll confess, I’ve never done it. I don’t think I have the temperament to weather the stress. For those who do, and who are willing to take the risk, the payoff can be great.
The last income stream we’ll cover is not-at-all glamorous or exciting, but it is as passive as it gets, and relatively safe. I’m talking about index funds.
Index funds are a special type of mutual fund. In a nutshell, they are baskets of investments (like stocks or bonds). When you buy a share of an index fund, you’re automatically investing in a bunch of different companies or organizations instead of putting all your eggs in one basket. Index funds = automatic diversification!
And you can achieve great returns from Index Funds if you invest for the long-term. The S&P 500 Index, for example, has averaged annual returns of about 11.69% from 1973 – 2016. Of course some years are great and some aren’t. In 2008 for example, the values actually dropped by 37% because of the recession. But they rebounded with an increase of about 26.5% in 2009 and another 15.1% in 2010. So be prepared to wait out any market downturns to realize strong gains over time.
Since publishing this post back in 2017, we’ve gotten an education in the many, varied ways to make money through real estate investments! For more, check out 18 Different Ways to Invest in Real Estate.
Great victories are made possible by small wins. Before you move on with the rest of your day, get a small win!
Your Small Win Challenge is to choose one (just one!) income stream to seriously research. Then commit to actually doing it. Show your commitment by leaving a comment to let me know which income stream you chose. Your feedback will also help me tailor future posts to topics that most interest you.
You can get an additional small win today by joining the Real Estate Side Hustles Community! We publish great new content every week to help real estate professionals like you create and manage multiple income streams. Get inspired with new money-making ideas and get the details on putting these ideas into action.