3 Ways You Can Profit From the Asset-Sharing Trend

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Asset sharing has emerged as a hot trend in recent years. If there's a big-ticket item out there -- from homes to cars and from boats to private jets -- there's probably one if not many platforms and business models designed to let owners share the pricey assets with others for profit.

There are three ways to make the most of the asset-sharing revolution, and you can take advantage of at least two of them. If you're looking to experience a ritzy vacation home or to grab a car to run some errands, clearly there's some serious money to be saved by asset-sharing over buying the asset outright. If you're the owner of an expensive item that sits idle most of the time, there's obviously money to be made by letting others enjoy it. Finally, as an investor you can profit from the trend by buying into some of the publicly traded companies leading the way.

Let's go over all three of the ways to profit from this potent trend.

Live the Good Life

"Neither a borrower nor a lender be," William Shakespeare once wrote -- but he wasn't fortunate enough to take advantage of the asset-sharing platforms of today.

Let's start at the top of luxury market. Most of us can't afford a corporate jet, but companies like NetJets and Flexjet let consumers prepay for as little as 25 hours of flight time on the aircraft of their choice. It's not cheap -- starting in the low six figures -- but it's certainly easier on the pocketbook than buying and maintaining a private jet.

Most of us can't afford a yacht, either, but fractional ownership programs are popping up in seafaring cities. They allow several people to share a yacht with pooled maintenance overhead for a lot less money and hassle than owning a luxury boat outright.

More affordable asset-sharing experiences can be found in the automotive and vacation markets. Auto ownership is becoming less of a necessity thanks to car-sharing services, led by Zipcar, where members pay as little as $7 a month for the right to rent a car for as little as $8 an hour. On the vacation front, HomeAway (AWAY) and Airbnb are two of the leading players that let folks rent entire vacation homes or just a mere room for a lot less than many hotels and other lodging establishments charge.

Share the Wealth for More Wealth

If you own a car or a second home, you might notice how often your investment goes unused. That's an opportunity.

Folks can share their own cars through peer-to-peer online platforms including RelayRides and Getaround. Owners list their vehicle availability, collecting money whenever it gets rented out of their own driveway by drivers who replenish the gas they use before returning the car.

Enterprising car owners can also use their vehicles in new ways to generate money. They can join Uber or Lyft, serving as the new generation of taxi drivers. They can also step up as couriers through Postmates, picking up food orders from local restaurants that don't offer direct delivery.

Homes are also assets that can be milked for more money. Owners of second homes or vacation properties can offer them up on sites including HomeAway, FlipKey and VRBO. They can also list them on Airbnb, which also is more than happy to accept listings from folks wanting to share a room or sections of their primary homes.

Of course, inviting strangers into your car and home introduces security concerns. There's also wear and tear to consider; however, there is money to be made to offset the usage.

Investing in the Trend

There are many publicly traded companies that have some skin in the asset-sharing game. HomeAway is a public company. Some of the platforms mentioned in this article are also subsidiaries of public companies: Zipcar used to trade on its own, but now it's an Avis Budget (CAR) division. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A) (BRK-B) owns NetJets. FlipKey is part of Trip Advisor's (TRIP) properties.

Asset-sharing is a defining trend of our generation. Luckily for us, there are several ways to make it pay off.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Berkshire Hathaway, HomeAway and TripAdvisor. The Motley Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and TripAdvisor. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. Check out our free report on one great stock to buy for 2015 and beyond.
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