I haven’t worked in-person since 2008. But I’ve worked in and around real estate for my entire career.
I’ve used a combination of remote jobs, side hustles, an online business, and real estate investments to fund my flexible lifestyle. And you have even more options open to you than I’ve used myself.
Try these 14 ideas to earn money from real estate without ever leaving home—or from anywhere in the world.
1. Flip Land
Most land investors never step foot on the land they buy. Instead, they buy parcels at a discount from thousands of miles away and then sell them for full price (or wholesale them to other land investors).
Every land investor uses their own strategy for finding deals, from direct mail to email or text message campaigns, contacting distressed property owners on tax sales, foreclosure, or divorce. But the fundamentals are the same: you find off-market properties, buy low, and sell high.
In some cases, that means buying parcels for a few hundred dollars. That makes it easy to invest with little cash and avoid financing headaches.
Loans aren’t the only headache you avoid, for that matter. Land investors don’t have to hassle with renovations, contractors, property inspectors, tenants, or property managers.
Want to learn how it works? Check out our land investing course to master investing from your pajamas.
2. Silent Partners on Real Estate Deals
You could also invest in rental properties or flipping houses without leaving the house. It just requires a partner who does all the labor for you.
That typically means you come up with more of the money, while they do the work of finding deals, overseeing renovations, managing tenants, and so on. For example, you might come up with 60-70% of the investing capital, but you share ownership 50/50.
Which is all well and good, if you partner with an experienced professional. Only consider partnering with a seasoned veteran if what they’re bringing to the table are labor and expertise.
3. Lend Private Notes
Many pro real estate investors don’t want to give up equity in their deals just for extra money. They’d rather borrow the money and pay interest on it.
This offers yet another passive way to earn money on real estate. Write a check, and watch the interest flow in each month. You sign a legal document called a promissory note, legally binding the loan.
For residential real estate investments, only lend money to experienced investors you know, like, and trust. Review their track record carefully before handing over your hard-earned money.
You can also offer owner financing when you sell land parcels. Because you can structure the deal as an installment contract—and because the eviction and foreclosure laws are so much looser for undeveloped land—you take on far less risk on these notes.
Alternatively, you can buy and sell private notes. If you’re curious to learn more, listen to this episode on note investing with Eric Scharaga.
4. Buy Tax Liens
You can bid virtually at online auctions for tax liens or tax deeds, when delinquent property owners fail to pay their property taxes too many years in a row.
Each state has its own process for recovering delinquent property taxes. In tax lien states, you buy a lien against the property, which you can then foreclose on. The property owner either pays you the owed amount plus interest, or they forfeit their property to you.
In tax deed states, you directly buy the property at tax sale.
Either way, you can run the process remotely. At least up to the point where you actually take ownership of the property — then you (or your employee) should probably look at what your money bought you.
5. Rent Out a Bedroom
I haven’t paid full price for housing in over a decade. And my very first experience with house hacking was renting out a room in my first home to a housemate.
Her rent covered the bulk of my mortgage payment. She and I also became great friends, which later expanded to include her now-husband, whom she met while we were living together. In fact, they visited my wife and me in Italy once.
But as far from home as that shared experience was, I never had to leave the house to rent out the room and start earning money on it.
6. Rent Out Storage Space
My business partner once rented out her garage to help cover the bills. It didn’t rent for as much as a bedroom or ADU would, but it still generated income from her home.
All without her lifting a finger or leaving the house.
7. Become a Virtual Notary
There was a time when notaries drove all over place attesting documents for real estate transactions and beyond.
All right, so that’s actually still the norm today. But it’s not the only way to close real estate anymore.
8. Take a Remote Job or Gig Related to Real Estate
I worked full-time for eight years for an online business that sold legal forms and other online services to landlords.
There are endless remote jobs in or adjacent to the real estate field. From bookkeeping and accounting to digital marketing to online ad campaigns to graphic design work for real estate-related websites—the sky’s the limit.
Get creative, and prepare to brush up on needed skill sets. For more, check out these real estate side hustle ideas.
9. Write About Real Estate as a Freelancer
What do you think I’m doing right now?
Sure, I happen to be at an office. But I could just as easily have written this article from the comfort of my own home. And the office where I’m writing at the moment is in South America, showcasing that you can earn money in the real estate field from anywhere.
Of course, it helps if you’re actually an expert in real estate. I’ve owned dozens of properties directly, and I currently own an interest in over 1,500 units. I’ve lent private notes, flipped land parcels, and flipped houses.
Still, everyone starts somewhere, and I’ve hired writers who didn’t necessarily have much real estate experience. If you love to write, it’s one more option at your disposal.
10. Start Your Own Real Estate Website
You could always start your own real estate website rather than write for someone else’s.
Your website could serve real estate agents, investors, real estate wholesalers, title companies, appraisers, home inspectors, or any other niche in the real estate world. Get creative, and follow your interests and expertise.
Website owners monetize their sites in many ways. Ads are a classic business model, but you can also monetize by creating premium content behind a paywall, selling online courses, ebooks, or digital products such as tools or software. For that matter, you can dropship someone else’s physical products. You can accept money for sponsored content or links or create a premium community and charge membership fees.
One other way to monetize your website includes reviewing or featuring affiliated products. For example, Seth has invested his personal money with Fundrise, and he speaks from direct experience in his review of Fundrise. And he also earns a small referral fee through his affiliate link, which doesn’t take anything away from his candor and direct experience in his review of their platform.
11. Provide Coaching
Novices in any field need to learn somehow. Often that takes the form of mentorship or coaching.
You could offer coaching for real estate investors, Realtors, appraisers, real estate marketers, or photographers. Or anyone else who does anything even remotely related to real estate.
While in-person coaching is undeniably more powerful, you can still offer virtual coaching from your living room or home office. And, to echo the above point, you can offer it through your real estate website.
12. Invest in Real Estate Crowdfunding
I’ve personally invested with most of the big-name real estate crowdfunding sites available currently. All of which while traveling overseas.
You don’t need to physically step into a property to invest in it. Like Seth, I’ve invested in pooled funds owning multiple properties, such as Fundrise and Streitwise (see our Streitwise review for more). I’ve also invested in loans secured against real estate, through platforms like Groundfloor (review here) and Concreit (review here).
And despite a long history as a landlord, I’ve also bought fractional ownership in rental properties through platforms like Arrived (review) and Ark7. It makes it far easier to diversify when you can invest $20-100 per property instead of a $50,000 down payment!
Every investment was passive, not requiring any labor or work on my part. Or requiring me to leave the house, for that matter.
13. Invest in Real Estate Syndications
Just as you can buy fractional shares of single-family rental properties through Arrived, you can also buy fractional ownership in commercial properties. And it’s equally passive.
This practice is known in the industry as a real estate syndication, where you buy in as a limited partner in a real estate deal. The most common type of commercial real estate is multifamily apartment buildings, but syndications could feature anything from self-storage facilities to mobile home parks to industrial real estate to retail.
In most cases, you earn ongoing passive income while the syndicator operates the property, and when it sells, you get your cut of the profits. Juicy, juicy profits: investors flock to syndications because they historically pay huge returns, often 15% to 30% or higher.
So why doesn’t everyone invest in them? To begin with, these represent long-term investments with no liquidity—you lock up your money for two to seven years.
Even more restricting, many syndications only allow accredited investors. Even those that allow retail investors still come with high minimum investments, typically $50,000 and up. You can get around that requirement by pooling funds through a real estate investing club. That’s precisely what my own company offers: group real estate investing in syndications, with a fraction of the funds needed normally. (See? Another example of how to monetize a real estate website, with membership fees.)
14. Invest in REITs or Real Estate-Related ETFs
It may not be sexy or new, but you can earn money from the comfort of your couch by investing in real estate investment trusts (REITs).
These securities trade on public stock exchanges, so you don’t need a special account or login. You just sign into your brokerage account or app, and you can buy shares in REITs just like stocks. And, like stocks, you can sell at any time—a rarity in the world of real estate investing.
For that matter, plenty of actual stocks offer exposure to the real estate market. Homebuilding companies, home improvement retailers, real estate brokerage firms, and real estate technology companies all offer exposure. For that matter, so do hospitality companies like hotel chains, with their enormous real estate footprints.
What I don’t love about REITs and real estate-related stocks is their volatility. More specifically, I don’t like their correlation with stock markets. Often REITs crash right alongside stock markets, even when the underlying real estate assets are performing just fine. That defeats the purpose of diversification, at least diversifying away from stocks.
I’ve been working remotely in T-shirts and athletic shorts for most of my adult life. It lets me spend ten months out of each year traveling overseas with my wife and daughter, and take advantage of lower living costs in foreign countries even as I earn money in U.S. dollars.
You might prefer to stay closer to home, or never even leave your home. And despite its hands-on reputation, the real estate industry offers plenty of options for you to do so.
Whatever path you choose, just make sure you learn the skills needed to succeed. I had plenty of false starts and losses in the beginning of my career, which I could have easily avoided by having a mentor or taking a course or two. Learn from other people’s mistakes, so you don’t have to make them yourself.