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Want to live in a healthy community with great home-price appreciation? West of the Mississippi is a good place to look.

That’s where the top markets in RealtyTrac’s 2013 Health & Wealth Special Report are located, with the exception of an area in Tennessee and one in North Carolina.

“A lot of those western markets, especially the Mountain West, seem to be known for healthy living,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac. “So we weren’t too surprised by that.”

The analysis took Local Market Monitor’s 22 best markets for appreciation and incorporated 10 health factors from RealtyTrac data. The study also looked at the unemployment rates and foreclosure discounts in those areas, and the combination of these data determined the top 12 markets for good health and building real estate wealth.

The Top 12

So if you’re looking for a good place to invest in real estate and your health, you may want to start here:

  1. Austin-Round Rock, Texas
  2. Fargo, North Dakota/Minnesota
  3. Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, Arkansas/Missouri
  4. Provo-Orem, Utah
  5. Des Moines-West Des Moines, Iowa
  6. Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C.
  7. San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, Calif.
  8. Salt Lake City, Utah
  9. Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn.
  10. Billings, Mont.
  11. Cheyenne, Wyo.
  12. Sioux Falls, S.D.

Discovering a Great Market

Blomquist said this is the first time RealtyTrac had conducted this study, and one of its goals is to show people the variety of things they can research when deciding where to buy a home.

“We’re showing that by digging into the data, you can find some of these hidden gems,” Blomquist said. “There are good places to buy across the country that research will help you find.”

Health rates were determined using 10 factors in three categories: lifestyle, disease and environment. As noted in the report, homeowners should take note of a market’s lifestyle because neighbors’ good and bad habits may rub off. Such lifestyle factors were activity rate, availability of fast food, heavy drinking and smoking.

Diabetes, obesity, heart attack and asthma made up the disease category, and environment comprised radon and air quality.

While Texas is home to the No. 1 market for health and real estate wealth (Austin-Round Rock), Utah is the only state to have two metropolitan statistical areas in the top 12 (Provo-Orem and Salt Lake City).

Blomquist said Utah real estate is “very solid.”

“There’s a lot of positive things happening in that market; unemployment rates are very low in Utah,” he said. “It’s again one of those that a lot of folks may not think of as being on the top of list of where there’s some hot real estate.”

No matter where you’re looking, it’s important to stay on top of your credit history and understand the home-buying process. You can use Credit.com’s Credit Report Card and keep up to date on mortgage coverage to learn.

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