Nothing lasts forever, and that includes apartments

September 18, 2022 | 04:43 pm PT
Pham Trung Tuyen Journalist
Nothing lasts forever, and that includes apartments
An apartment building in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Du
Thirty years ago our family moved from a poor neighborhood to the high-rise Nam Dong apartment complex in Hanoi’s Dong Da District.

It was a high-quality apartment at the time, with three rooms and two restrooms. My parents said they would "keep the apartment for our children, and then their children."

Ten years ago, when my children were still little, the apartment had already become a shell of its former self. Patches from the ceilings would drop randomly on our bed while the conveniences that came with it at the beginning also failed to keep up with the times.

People started talking about demolishing it to build a new one, but over the past decade, that never happened. I decided to move to another place.

An apartment building is not built to last for eternity. Many of its conveniences cannot be upgraded over time as their owners cannot just repair or adjust things as they wish.

As such, an apartment tower must have an expiration date.

The National Assembly had decided in 1998 that land has no expiration date. Determining how long a land plot could be used for an apartment building, however, was discussed during the passage of the Law on Housing in 2014. The matter about the expiration dates of apartment buildings began to re-circulate recently.

Some people believe that because they must either save up or borrow money to be able to buy apartments, they should be a big, grand property to be used not only in their lifetime but also their children and grandchildren's.

I don't think it is wrong to think that, and it is in fact practical given how apartments these days are priced as if they would last forever. But if you have ever lived in an old apartment, you will see how nonsensical that notion is.

No matter how much money you throw into an apartment to fix and maintain it, time will always emerge the winner. Just as death is inevitable, no building can last forever.

Apartments keep getting more expensive, but their values actually drop over time, and that is just absurd.

Determining an apartment’s expiration date and putting it on paper is something that needs to be done so that people get a wake-up call from their dream of buildings and houses that can last for generations.

I believe it needs to be done for two reasons. Firstly, it will pull apartment prices closer down to their actual value because no sane person will invest all their life’s savings to buy properties with expiration dates. Secondly, it will help shift buyers’ perceptions. Once they no longer consider an apartment an investment that will appreciate, they will evaluate them for what they are and start considering renting.

Developers will also change their thinking once apartments get expiration dates. The trend of building fancy, luxurious apartments will be replaced with more practical ones focused on the convenience and actual needs of occupants.

Nothing lasts forever, and that includes apartments.

*Pham Trung Tuyen is a journalist and deputy director of VOV Giao Thong.

The opinions expressed here are personal and do not necessarily match VnExpress's viewpoints. Send your opinions here.
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