Manhattan Transfer

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The dollar's worth 50p, and US mortgage lenders are in trouble - is this the perfect time to snap up prime real estate? Laura Latham goes shopping in America's most wanted cities

The dollar is at its lowest level against the pound for more than a decade, and rising interest rates in the US, combined with lax lending, has led to the sub-prime mortgage crisis, leaving the property market in crisis. There's never been a better time to buy there.

According to John Hickman of currency specialist Caxton FX, there has been unprecedented interest from Europeans in the US market. "America is very much a good investment now. The dollar is at a low and though property prices have fallen, there's scope for them to drop a little more."

Camilla Mabbott, of estate agent Aylesford, agrees that anyone considering buying in the US would "be mad not to right now". The company has several swanky properties on its books in Miami and Manhattan, both of which are perennially popular.

The Setai is one example of the kind of place anyone who ever dreamt of living in NYC would love. Sleek, chic and right on Broad Street, in the financial district, the building offers apartments designed to the highest spec. With a starting price of 320,000 for a studio, the Setai is less than a similarly stylish, well-located apartment would now cost in central London or Paris. "The Setai is the ideal pied--terre," says Mabbott, "it's very contemporary, very cool."

If you want to go cheaper, local agencies such as Manhattan Apartments have attractive studios or one-beds in the midtown starting from 200,000, or an apartment with views of the Chrysler Building for under 300,000. Alternatively, the Jade building, by the developer YOO, has apartments designed by Jade Jagger from 225,000.

According to Brigitte Hunt of Bridgemon International, Miami entices a chic, cosmopolitan crowd and is a very good market for overseas investors: "A lot of people are in trouble and there are bargains to be found." Hunt says that it isn't necessarily about buying cheap; rather it's about buying well - something in a high- end location in a good building that would normally be out of reach.

Top-end buyers will need to stump up at least 600,000 for an apartment in the Trump building, for sale via Bridgemon. …