For most people, buying a home is one of the biggest purchases they'll make in their life.
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 by their growth in value over time.
The study examined home prices dating back to 1997 across 400 metropolitan areas in the U.S. and ranked each based on home value growth and price stability.
Texas dominates the top 10 locations, with Austin placing first overall.
For the ranking, SmartAsset looked at two main factors: price growth going back 25 years, and price stability, which is calculated as a probability of a significant price decline of 5% or more at any point in the 10 years after a home is purchased in a given market.
The difference between the top and bottom ranked markets is significant.
Homes in top-ranked Austin have grown 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 study.
Compare that with Flint, Michigan, the lowest-ranking market. Homes have appreciated by an average of 83% in the same time period and carry a 45% chance of losing 5% or more in value within 10 years.
While past performance does not guarantee future results, the study provides a snapshot of a given market's desirability over time.
As an investment, Austin homes have offered a return on investment of 14.72% per year, greater than the 9.35% return on the S&P 500 in that time. That's significantly higher than in Flint, which averaged a 3.44% annual return over 25 years.
Several other cities also outpaced the year-over-year gains in the S&P index in the last 25 years, including Boulder, Colorado; Midland, Texas; Rapid City, South Dakota; and Fort Collins, Colorado.
Of course, this all assumes that you can afford a home in such an overheated market. Although prices vary by region, the overall cost of a home continues to rise: The median sales price for existing homes in the U.S. is up by 15% compared to this time last year, according to data from the National Association of Realtors.
While home sales dipped in February, prices are expected to remain elevated for the rest of the year.