The babble about the bubble being in trouble simply will not die, and adding grist to the mill were last week's New York sales figures for the last quarter, which were greeted with a general sense of dismay. Four separate reports released by leading brokerage firms indicated that for the three months to September the average price of a Manhattan apartment dropped 12.7 per cent, from US$1.32 million in the second quarter to US$1.15 million. Most analysts are cautious, proclaiming that seasonal figures - especially those from a traditionally slow time such as the summer - should not be taken to represent the true picture of the market. 'At the beginning of next year there will be a lot of Wall Street bonus money coming into play, which traditionally translates directly into the luxury market,' said Greg Heym of Halstead Property. As a reflection of the United States market as a whole, can Manhattan be taken as a template? Jonathan Miller, president of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel, said: 'Stories of Manhattan's eminent demise have been exaggerated. 'Although there has definitely been a shift where we've moved away from a frenzied double-digit to a more normalised market, one of the characteristics is that we've seen a tremendous amount of condo development - through supply and demand the appreciation scene on real estate has already begun to temper.' Mr Miller compiled the Prudential Douglas Elliman report, which covers sales of all firms in New York City. He said that while there was no chance of the local bubble bursting, the market might look like pointing towards a soft landing of sorts, before being re-energised in the New Year with an influx of funds as first timers made way for the major players flexing their bonuses in the luxury market. In view of the rest of the country, however, things are looking fairly bullish. 'The west coast actually saw more appreciation than the east coast last quarter, but the northeast was not far behind,' Mr Miller said. 'Some of those markets are still very active but are not seeing the gains they saw in prior years, and there's a lot of construction going on.' When viewed as a whole, the US property market is usually broken down by the government into statistical zones. The northeast gets compared with the west; the midwest gets compared with the south. Home prices across California have more than doubled since late 2001, increasing pressure on homebuyers, who needed a minimum household income of US$133,800 to buy a home at the August median price of US$568,890, according to a report by the California Association of Realtors. The average price of an apartment in New York now exceeds US$1 million. 'The phenomenon seen in New York in terms of a surge in developments and prices has been replicated in many other metropolitan markets,' Mr Miller said. 'Boston is very expensive, Chicago has seen significant appreciation, and San Francisco would be a good example as well as Seattle, which has also seen significant appreciation.' And, he said, it was a fair bet that things would continue in this vein. 'We've acclimatised to a frenzied double-digit pace for so long that any kind of slowdown is being viewed as something catastrophic. 'My sense is that it's really a shift in gears and that it doesn't appear that mortgage rates are going to spike.'