Global non-listed real estate funds returned 8.08% last year, according to a combined index of INREV, ANREV and NCREIF. The figure marks an overall improvement on the 4.57% recorded in 2012.

The three industry bodies, which respectively represent Europe, Asia and the US, contributed to the Global Real Estate Fund Index.

Global gains were driven by positive performances in Asia at 9.2% and the US at 13.2%. Europe also performed well, posting total returns of 3.5% last year, compared with -0.5% in 2012.

The improved overall returns masked a less favourable outlook for southern Europe, which recorded negative returns of -11.8%.

Casper Hesp, INREV director of research and market information, said: “While the headline numbers in Europe are impressive, the detail in the INREV Quarterly Index indicates a more mixed picture.

”The main story is about outperformance in the UK, but southern Europe is still struggling. These results underline the view that we’re witnessing a two-speed momentum.”

Performance in Europe was driven by the UK, which delivered returns of 8.7%, a significant jump from the 0.28% it produced in 2012. Elsewhere in Europe, CEE funds saw returns of 1.9%.

Much of the improved performance in Europe was the result of capital appreciation, which increased from -3.62% to -0.04% in 2013. But there was also a strong contribution from income returns, which increased from 3.2% to 3.58%.

In general, returns in Europe also benefitted from the significant inflow of capital from Asia and the US.

Growth in Asia was helped by an improved performance in Japan, while the US saw gains from improving market conditions.