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These 15 cities boast the best 20-year returns on home values

Victorian homes and the downtown skyline in San Francisco, California.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Depending where you live, staying put in your home for the last two decades could be paying off well. As in really well.

While the median nationwide home value is about 90% higher now than it was in 1999 — $226,800 compared with about $119,000 — some spots boast values that have jumped far more than that.

In some places, the gain is more than 300% or even 400%. However, that doesn’t take into consideration other housing costs that can eat into profits: property taxes, maintenance or improvements.

Cities with top gains in home values, 1st to 5th

City 1999 median home value 2019 median home value 20-year change ($) 20-year change (%)
“Miami Beach FL” “$315,700 “ “$1,624,500 “ “$1,308,800 “ 414.60%
“Washington D.C.” “$139,400 “ “$702,400 “ “$563,000 “ 403.90%
“Somerville MA” “$197,100 “ “$901,400 “ “$704,300 “ 357.30%
“Santa Monica CA” “$608,900 “ “$2,633,600 “ “$2,024,700 “ 332.50%
“Mountain View CA” “$516,300 “ “$2,224,300 “ “$1,708,000 “ 330.80%

As part of a new study on where homeowners would have made the most money over the last 20 years, GoBankingRates analyzed median home values in more than 900 cities around the country.

Many of the places with the highest gains — both in terms of percentage and dollar amount — are in California, although a few East Coast cities fall within the top 15.

Cities with top gains in home values, 6th to 10th

City 1999 median home value 2019 median home value 20-year change ($) 20-year change (%)
“Oakland CA” “$179,700 “ “$769,200 “ “$589,500 “ 328.00%
“Hoboken NJ” “$417,400 “ “$1,746,300 “ “$1,328,900 “ 318.40%
“Sunnydale CA” “$455,400 “ “$1,886,500 “ “$1,431,100 “ 314.30%
“Santa Clara CA” “$344,400 “ “$1,396,100 “ “$1,051,700 “ 305.40%
“Fremont CA” “$295,800 “ “$1,176,500 “ “$880,700 “ 297.70%

Cities with top gains in home values, 11th to 15th

City 1999 median home value 2019 median home value 20-year change ($) 20-year change (%)
“Cambridge MA” “$403,300 “ “$1,592,600 “ “$1,189,300 “ 294.90%
San Francisco “$362,000 “ “$1,421,100 “ “$1,059,100 “ 292.60%
“Redwood City CA” “$440,700 “ “$1,688,200 “ “$1,247,500 “ 283.10%
“Jersey City NJ” “$123,700 “ “$473,600 “ “$349,900 “ 282.90%
“Hawthorne CA” “$171,800 “ “$655,200 “ “$483,400 “ 281.40%

In fact, of the 50 cities with the best percentage gains, just one is not along the east or west coast: Gulfport, Mississippi. There, the median home value of $213,200 is 256% more — or $153,400 — than the $59,800 median value in 1999.

At the same time, there are other places where homeowners who have stayed in their houses since 1999 could be sitting on an asset whose value has dropped.

For example, at the bottom of the list is Flint, Michigan, where home values have been sliced by more than 57% — to $19,300 currently from $45,300 in 1999. Dayton, Ohio, has experienced a 10.8% drop, to $53,100 from $59,500.

While most areas have recovered from the housing crisis that caused home values to fall by more than 20% from 2007 through 2011, Zillow data shows that 8.2% of homeowners are underwater nationwide — that is, they own more on their mortgage than the home is worth.

More from Personal Finance:
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Stretch your retirement savings the furthest in this state
The gender wage gap widens among educated workers

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