The property industry is significantly more optimistic about the future than it was at the start of summer, reveals a new sentiment survey conducted by Property Week.

Roughly 43% of respondents to the third quarter survey said they were much more or slightly more optimistic about the future than three months ago, although 31% said they were much more or slightly more pessimistic.

The industry is split on when it plans to return to the office: 27% of those polled said they had already partly returned, while roughly one in three expected to return before Christmas. Nearly a fifth of those surveyed said they did not expect to return until 2021.

Most respondents thought the government had handled the Covid-19 crisis very badly or not as well as it should have done, while just 15% thought it had performed well.

Some 70% of respondents predicted that retail would be the hardest hit sector in the medium to long term. Industrial was the sector expected to emerge most strongly from the crisis – by 54% of respondents – and 35% thought the residential sector would emerge most strongly.

Roughly half of those surveyed also forecast that retail property values and rents would plunge by between 10% and 40% over the next 12 months, while another third expected them to fall by up to 10%.

The industry is also split on how well it thinks trade bodies have worked with the government during the crisis, with 22% saying “pretty well” and 24% saying “not as well as they should have done”. Another 45% said they had performed neither well nor badly.