For most people, buying a home is one of the biggest purchases they will make in their lifetime.

And for those looking for a home that will eventually increase in value, location can make a big difference, according to a recent SmartAsset study that ranked real estate markets based on their growth in value over time.

The study examined home prices going back to 1997 in 400 metropolitan areas in the US and ranked each based on home value growth and price stability.

Texas dominates the top 10 locations, with Austin first overall.

For its ranking, SmartAsset looked at two main factors: price growth going back 25 years, and price stability, which is calculated as the probability of a significant price drop of 5% or more at some point in the 10 years after a home is bought in a given market.

The difference between the highest and lowest ranked markets is significant.

Homes in top-ranking Austin have increased in value by an average of 368% since 1997 and have a 0% chance of a 5% loss in value within 10 years, according to the survey.

Compare that to Flint, Michigan, the lowest-ranked market. Homes have increased in value by an average of 83% over the same period and have a 45% chance of losing 5% or more in value within 10 years.

While past performance is no guarantee of future results, the study provides a snapshot of the desirability of a particular market over time.

As an investment, Austin homes have offered a return on investment of 14.72% per year, ahead of the 9.35% return on the S&P 500 at the time. That is significantly higher than Flint, which averaged an annual return of 3.44% over 25 years.

Several other cities also outperformed year-over-year gains in the S&P index over the past 25 years, including Boulder, Colorado; Midland, Texas; Rapid City, South Dakota; and Fort Collins, Colorado.

All this assumes, of course, that you can afford a home in such an overheated market. While prices vary by region, the total cost of a home continues to rise: According to data from the National Association of Realtors, the average sales price for existing homes in the US is 15% higher than this time last year.

While home sales fell in February, prices are expected to remain elevated for the rest of the year.

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