You Could Make Extra Money Doing This Real Estate Side Hustle — But There’s a Catch

published Apr 27, 2021
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A while back, I was scrolling through TikTok when I saw a video from a guy who shared how his cousin was making a few thousand dollars every month by showing homes for busy real estate agents. 

I’m always a bit skeptical of these side-hustle hyping TikTok videos, because many fall into the “too good to be true” category. I mean, can you really become a millionaire by becoming an at-home Amazon vendor? Cue the raised eyebrows.

Yet I could see how this particular setup might be legit. With a record number of people moving and historically low interest rates bringing out buyers in droves, it would make sense that realtors are being stretched thin and, unable to clone themselves, needing help with showings.

In the video, @mel_anic dishes: “You literally just show up to the home. You let the client walk through the home. You answer just very basic questions. You don’t have to know any real estate contracts. You don’t have to know how the economy works. You’re literally just showing up to the home to open the door for the client because the agent wasn’t there.” 

He claims that you can do this with Redfin, and it turns out you can (associate agent contractors are paid up to $120 per house tour), though other brokerages are hiring contractors, too.

As you might’ve guessed, there’s a catch: You need a real estate license to do this. It’s illegal to send an unlicensed showing agent to open up a property for buyers.

And to be clear, a real estate license isn’t something you can just bang out over a weekend. For starters, you need to complete the required number of prelicensing education hours. This varies by state but ranges from 40 to 168 hours. Classes, meanwhile, can cost around $500. After completing your course, you’d need to take some practice exams. Then, you’d take (and pass) your state’s real estate license exam. To put it another way, this isn’t as simple as getting a lockbox code and letting prospective buyers into a home.

The main drawback to this setup is that when associate agents are contracted to show homes, they can’t answer questions like listing agents who are more familiar with the property would be able to, explains Kate Ziegler, a realtor with Arborview Realty in Boston.

For those who are interested in becoming real estate agents, though, showing homes for other agents could be a good way to get a start and make some money. Your first year as a real estate agent can be brutal because you don’t have clients yet and thus aren’t many closing deals, Ziegler says. However, many realtors will rely on someone else from their team to do their showings rather than hiring a stranger. 

Real estate agents are indeed stretched thin right now juggling multiple clients and schedules, says Snezhana Conway, a licensed realtor with Samson Properties in Maryland, who specializes in the Washington D.C. area. 

“I use a showing agent sometimes when I have a few showings on the same day in different areas,” Conway says. “I never send a showing agent on my first home tour. There has to be a line of communication established with my buyer already, a certain level of trust and loyalty, and a comfort level when I can dispatch someone else instead of myself.”