The worst of the property crash in Europe could be over, according to Union Investment’s Climate Index.

The index of attitudes towards property investment, calculated through responses to a survey from investors, rose for the first time since autumn 2006 in France and the UK.

The survey suggested this showed growing confidence among investors with regards their own business prospects as well as the wider property market.

The UK saw a particularly steep rise in the index, by 12 points to 65.5.

Olaf Janßen, head of property research at Union Investment, said: ‘The sharp rise in the UK by 12 points to 65.5 points – the biggest movement we have recorded over the past four years – suggests that the savage correction in London is beginning to tempt British investors back into the market.’

In Germany, the index remained the same at 62.1.

In France, there was a slight increase of 1.8 points to 63.4.

The ‘expectation’ factor was the major driver for the positive performance of the index, particularly in the UK, where it climbed 19.6 points to 57.7. 63% of UK investors were upbeat about their prospects, but only 36% felt the same in Germany and 30% in France.

87% of Brits expected a rise in investment from overseas in the UK market. A large number of investors were also returning to property as an investment class, the survey found. 42% planned to invest significantly more in property in the near future, compared to 21% in December 2008 in the UK. Both France and Germany also saw the percentage of people planning to invest rise, to 41% in both countries.

Janßen said: ‘This greater willingness to invest indicates that we will soon have turned the corner in terms of European transactions. Bit by bit, the brakes are coming off.’

There was also a new focus on generating returns rather than looking for safe havens, particularly in the UK.

68% of UK investors said they were focused on returns, with just 18% seeking safety. However in France and Germany only 28% and 29% were making decisions based on returns rather than safety.

Janßen said: ‘The greater emphasis on returns among British investors is a further indication that the UK turnaround represents a sustained trend. Germany and France lag the British market both here and in terms of investor expectations.’