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Allan Saunderson is managing editor of Property Finance Europe and a contributor to GlobeSt.com.

HAMBURG, GERMANY-After a significant deterioration in sentiment in the second half of 2008, European property investors now appear to have largely put the gloom behind them, according to the Investment Climate Index of the Hamburg-based RE fund manager Union Investment.

In France and the UK the index rose in second quarter 2009 for the first time since autumn 2006, reflecting growing confidence among investors in those countries with regard to business prospects and the state of the property market in general. Although changes were broadly similar in the three core markets surveyed, including Germany, clear difference highlighted the UK’s traditional cycle leadership.

Survey responses from German and French property professionals indicate the decline over the past year has at best been halted. After last year’s major drop, the index in Germany moved sideways and stands at 62.1 points. In France, the index rose by a small 1.8 points to 63.4.

Despite the positive trend, national indices remain at a low level overall. The positive performance in all markets was mainly driven by the expectation indicator. This was particularly marked in the UK, where it climbed 19.6 points to 57.7. Most UK investors (63%) were very upbeat about their own prospects over the next 12 months. By contrast, the values for Germany and France were relatively low, at 36% and 30% respectively.

“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,” said Union Investment head of research Olaf Janssen.

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