That can mean good deals but hefty repair bills.

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American homes aren’t just growing dramatically more expensive. They’re also getting older.

The median age of U.S. homes had risen to 39 years as of 2019, according to the latest American Community Survey. Houses in Philadelphia’s are even older, with a median age of 93. For home buyers frustrated by fierce competition and soaring prices, older homes can present a more affordable option. One obvious caveat: Aging structures need work.

“In many markets, those older homes are more affordable, but they come with an increased need for repairs and maintenance,” says Danielle Samalin, chief executive of Framework Homeownership, a company that coaches first-time home buyers. “Budgeting for maintenance and repairs is critically important.”

Samalin speaks from experience: She and her family live in a 1799 home in western Massachusetts.

She loves the home’s character, although she acknowledges that owning a home built during the presidency of John…

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