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How to make money on Airbnb without owning any property

Jasper Ribbers
make money on airbnb without owning any property

You can make a six-figure income working from home by renting out properties on Airbnb. Despite what you may think, this is a viable business even if you aren’t ready to invest any money upfront.

How? Keep reading and you'll learn how to make money on Airbnb without owning any property.

But first, lets get clear on what a “short-term rental” really is:

A property that you rent out for 29 days or less on Airbnb, Booking.com, VRMO and through other marketing channels.

(For the sake of simplicity, I'll just talk about Airbnb in this post.)

There are so many ways to make money with short-term rentals today, but here are the three most common ways:

  1. The ownership model: you buy a property and rent it out on Airbnb.
  2. The master lease or arbitrage model: you rent a property and re-rent in on Airbnb.
  3. The management model: you rent out a property that someone else owns on Airbnb.

All three are viable and profitable business models, each with their own pros and cons. But the management model has one HUGE advantage that the other models don't have, as you will see.

(And that's why I will focus on this model in this post.)

But lets briefly discuss the other two models so you understand the differences.

The ownership model

The way this model works is you pretty simple. You find a single-family home, a condo or even a full apartment building that you think would do well on Airbnb. In the end, it doesn’t matter what it is, it just needs to be a piece of property that's attractive as a short-term rental.

You then purchase the property, remodel it (if needed), add furniture as you see fit, and get the property ready receive guests. Then you simply list it on Airbnb, and you're off to the races.

Of course there's a lot of other steps involved, but in a nutshell this is how it works.

The pros are that you own the property, and therefore you'll benefit it the property increases in value over time. Plus you have complete control over it, so you don't have to deal with anyone (except for the bank or an investor depending on how you finance it…).

The biggest challenge with this model is that you to get started you need one of these three: 1) a lot of cash to invest 2) the ability to get a loan or mortgage or 3) an investor to partner with.

So it's a lot harder to scale this business than when using one of the other two models.

The master leasing or rental arbitrage model

Under this model you don't purchase but rent your properties, and then re-rent them on Airbnb. This was a very popular strategy in the last 5 years or so, because this model is much easier to scale.

You still need to invest some decent money though, as you'll typically have to put up a couple months of rent, a security deposit and invest in furniture and maybe some repairs or maintenance items.

However, you can onboard properties much faster than if you were to purchase them. The biggest challenge is finding property owners that allow you to re-rent on Airbnb.

This is tricky in the beginning, but once you find a few landlords that you have a good relationship with and you've proven to be a reliable renter, you could scale quickly.

The rental arbitrage model lost in popularity quite a bit since the pandemic started in 2020. A lot of master lease companies went belly up, as Airbnb bookings were canceled, but leases still had to be paid.

The management model

If you choose this model, you don't own or lease the properties. You're simply managing them on Airbnb for a % of the profit. Someone else owns or leases it.

And that's where the big advantages of this model come in: the management model doesn't require any upfront investment and you're not stuck to a lease or mortgage.

You can literally start this business with zero dollars, so starting an Airbnb with no money is certainly possible.

Seems to good to be true?

If you search online, you'll find courses that promise to teach you how to earn 6 figures in 6 months on Airbnb without owning properties.

Now, I'm not saying that's not possible, and some people may have accomplished this.

But lets be realistic…to build a successful short-term rental management company does take time and requires hard work.

Just like building any other business does. There's no magic pill or free lunch.

However, if you're willing to get the right guidance and put in the hours, you can build an awesome and fun management business on Airbnb and make six figures or more.

How do I start an Airbnb business with no money?

As you've learned, the management model is the only model that allows you to start your Airbnb business with no money invested.

And that's why the major opportunity currently in the short-term rental space is managing other people's properties on Airbnb.

make money on airbnb without owning any property

How does this work? You find owners that have vacant properties and partner with them to bring their properties onto Airbnb. Then, you host guests in those properties and you keep a percentage of the revenue (typically 20-30%…).

As the Airbnb property manager (sometimes called “the co-host”), you manage the entire process A-Z and give the homeowner their share of the revenue at the end of the month.

If you want to make money on Airbnb without owning any property, this is the fastest way to get in.You can start making six figures at home without a penny. On top of that, it’s very scalable: you can add units with no money.

You just find the right property, negotiate the right terms with the right owner and plug these properties into your existing systems.

make money on airbnb without owning any property

You don't have to worry about signing on a lease, spending money on furniture and everything else. You only need to worry about one thing: finding owners.

A good way to get started is to leverage online marketplaces like Co-Host Market, to find owners who are looking for property managers.

You just go on there, make a profile and you can create customized packages to start growing your business (check out my review of Co-Host Market here).

make money on airbnb without owning any property

It’s a beautiful model. If you’re looking to make money on Airbnb without owning any property and run properties around the world, you can.

Airbnb has built a highly flexible ecosystem that’s accessible to anyone.

If the laws in one change, you’re not stuck with the lease, you’re not stuck with furniture, you’re not stuck with all the things you would’ve invested in for your lease.

This is a huge opportunity. Let’s talk about leveraging other people's property and getting them on Airbnb.

Case Study: How much can you make managing one home?

I’m going to show you examples of homes managed by Eric Moeller, my partner at Legends X, who ran an Airbnb property management company out of San Diego with over 100 units under management.

Together, we coach STR operators on how to make money on Airbnb without owning any property and how to make six figures at home through our coaching program Legends X.

Here’s an example of only one property his company manages:

make money on airbnb without owning any property

This is a property he manages solely on Airbnb.

He generates over just $9,500 a month on this property renting it out for 19 weeks.

This property is a bit further outside the tourist area.  

For every single dollar that comes in through Airbnb at the end of the month, Eric takes 25% and the homeowner takes 75%. 

The owner's responsibilities are to:

  • Pay for the mortgage 
  • Buy all the furniture
  • Stage the home
  • Almost everything. 

That’s why they get the bigger piece.

But Eric’s company generates about $2,000 a month on this one home. The owner on average generates about $6,000 a month. That’s slightly higher than what the market rate rents are in that area.

This home, ran remotely by Eric and his team, generates a consistent $2,000 a month.

Below is another condo that is outside the tourist area of San Diego.

make money on airbnb without owning any property

Eric and his team also get a commission 25% on this three-bedroom condo. In total, this unit generates about $7,000 a month: $4,700 for the owner and $1,600 for Eric and his team.

In just a couple of steps, they plug this property into their systems, the cleaners run it, the checking service provider runs it and this property is run remotely.

The result of managing two Airbnb properties

These two properties generate an average of $3,500 a month. That's nearly $43,000 a year just on two properties.  You’d only need about 5 properties like this to make a six-figure salary at home.

You don't have to buy properties. You don't have to invest in mortgages. You don't have to invest in leases and furniture. Eric found these properties through real estate investors and real estate agents. You don’t need to own any property to make money on Airbnb.

Make money on Airbnb without owning any property: How to scale

Nearly $50,000 a year is good, but it’s not quite making six figures at home yet. Your next questions will be:

  • Can we double this down?
  • How do we add four properties?
  • What about six properties?
  • When will we add ten properties?
  • How do we get these properties?
  • What will six figures on this property do for you?

The first step making six figures at home with your Airbnb business is automation.

Automating your Airbnb property management business

Probably 80% of what you can do as an Airbnb property manager is automated. Without automation, you won’t be able to make six figures from home.

That means 80% of the work that we do is driven through technology and the other portion is outsourced to our partners on the floor/ground and Virtual Assistants.

Whether you’re brand new or if you’re an Airbnb hosting veteran, there’s Airbnb automation technology that will help your business.

There are tools to automate:

  • Talking to your guests
  • Talking to your team
  • Communicating with homeowners
  • Pricing your properties
  • Managing your calendars

There’s a shift in the industry: people are scaling their Airbnb businesses and moving from hobbyists to professionals.

Scaling your Airbnb business: make six figures at home

In the Airbnb industry, there’s the rise of the professional host. People are realizing there’s a lot more potential in Airbnb than just a side hustle. The possibilities are endless.

You could make six figures at home, you could even make seven. And you can make this kind of money on Airbnb without owning any property.

Here’s what Eric and I think the success model is:

The Legend Success Model

What are the top STR operators doing better than everyone else? Here’s what we believe the 6 steps to success are:

1. Strategy

Figure out exactly what you want to do. Stop winging it. Create a plan, a strategy, and build systems around it.

2. Market

Determine what market you want to focus on and become an expert. Study every single thing about your property and your marketplace. 

3. Asset

Get tunnel vision on the properties you want to grow with. Based on your strategy, ask yourself if you want to be the person who:

  • Leases and manages entire apartment buildings
  • Focuses on luxury houses
  • Provides unique spaces

Whatever that is to you, just get into action and believe it’s gonna work perfectly.

4. Systems

Don't focus on your systems until get through 1, 2 and 3. Figure out how you’re going to automate your business and move things forward smoothly. These first four steps will build your foundation to make money on Airbnb without owning any property.

5. Brand

Most Airbnb courses will stop at number four. These next two steps are what will determine your six-figure salary as an Airbnb business owner. What brand are you developing? Branding is vital to your business today.

6. Experience

What experience are you providing your guests? After all, this is what the Airbnb model is built on. Guest experience. 

It doesn't matter if they're only there for vacation with their family or their business trip. You know when people see a movie so good they tell their friends to go see it? That’s how you want them to talk about your unit.

Your ability to provide the best hospitality will determine your six-figure success. How are you creating an experience that will separate you from all the other listings in your marketplace? 

Wrapping it all together

So no you know how to create an empire on Airbnb without owning a home. Again, building a six-figure Airbnb business isn’t easy, but with the right mindset, it’s possible for anyone.