Potential homeowners in the UK have been advised to check a property's susceptibility to subsidence before making a purchase following a year of record rainfall in 2012.

According to Searchflow, the fact that last year was the second wettest ever recorded means that a dry spell in 2013 could make properties more prone to subsiding as a result of the impact such variations in weather can have on soil and clay.

Indeed, the organisation explains that rainfall peaks in 2002 and 2008/9 were followed by much drier years in which subsidence claims rose by nearly a third, and has warned that similar conditions in 2013 could cost UK homeowners over £291 million in damages.

"We've had a particularly wet couple of years with 2012 the second wettest on record," explained Richard Hinton, director at SearchFlow.

"Clay soil is prevalent in the north, London and the south-east, and properties in these areas are particularly susceptible to subsidence issues.

"Buyers should be asking their conveyancer to check the risks associated with subsidence. There's nothing more precarious than making the biggest purchase of your life without all the facts in front of you."

With cases of subsidence in the UK having cost homeowners £3 billion in repairs since 2001, it's vital that anyone thinking of purchasing a property is fully aware of its potential to suffer from the problem.

And this factor is just as important for landlords, with investors relying on regular income from their portfolios as well as trying to guard against extensive void periods.

While landlord insurance policies are an effective way to cover the cost of repair work, avoiding properties that are more likely to experience structural issues could save investors from substantial headaches in the future.

By taking a proactive approach and ensuring you're aware of all of the facts before going through with a purchase, it is possible to make an informed decision that takes the long-term picture into account.