Buy-to-let has beaten allcomers to be declared the best investment of the last 18 years.
It raced ahead of equities, bonds, cash and commercial property by delivering average annual returns of more than 16%.
That outperformance looks set to continue, according to former economist Rob Thomas, who carried out the research for Paragon Mortgages.
Thomas investigated how much £1,000 would be worth today if it was invested in various asset classes in the final three months of 1996, when buy-to-let mortgages were first introduced.
Every £1,000 invested in an average buy-to-let property bought with a 75% LTV mortgage had grown to £13,048 in the final quarter of 2013, a compound annual return of 16.3%.
This was partly due to the effect of leverage, with taking out a mortgage magnifying investors' buying power.
Since 1996, returns from buy-to-let have outpaced the interest payable on mortgages.
Amateur landlords who bought their properties with cash did less well, with each £1,000 worth £4,791 by the end of 2013. That is a compound annual return of 9.7%.
By comparison, £1,000 invested in UK commercial property would have grown to £3,654.
It would be worth £3,082 if invested in UK equities and £2,924 in UK government bonds.
If left in cash, it would be worth £1,949.
The research assumed that buy-to-let investors started with a single property worth the UK average and reinvested in more properties each time their income provided a 25% deposit and covered the purchase costs.
It assumed cash investors bought a single property and income was only reinvested once enough gain had been accumulated to purchase another property outright.
Thomas predicted that returns from buy-to-let returns would continue to outperform other investments over the next 10 years.