By James Martini
Homebuyers could have their hearts broken by property surveyors depending on what time of year they look to buy, according to new research.
Property firm SearchFlow discovered that 23 per cent of flood risk assessments carried out over the last three years took place in October and November, when wet weather is usually at its worst, while just 6 per cent of assessments were conducted in January.
Homeowners across Britain have had to batten down the hatches throughout 2012 as the UK experienced the wettest April to June for more than a century, while further deluges arrived in July, September, October and December.
The consequent floods that affected large parts of England and Wales caused the number of flood risk assessments conducted in November to plunge to 14.4 per cent - down by 8.6 per cent on the average for the previous three years.
September was the month with the lowest proportion of flood searches this year (7.3 per cent) as high pressure brought warm and settled conditions to the UK during the first two weeks.
However, homeowners who bought during this period and failed to have the property assessed could have already made an early claim on their home insurance after torrential downpours returned later in the month.
"If a property is at risk of flood during a wet year, the risk is the same whether you buy in June or November," said Richard Hinton, business development director of SearchFlow.
"But many homebuyers and property lawyers are only carrying out flood risk searches when the autumn rain begins to set in.
"Unfortunately, this attitude leaves a great many homebuyers at risk of heartbreak further down the line."
The Environment Agency suspects that around 5.2 million homes in the UK are at risk of flooding; with an estimated 2.8 million houses at risk of surface water flooding, roughly 1.4 million properties susceptible to river or coastal flooding, and one million at risk of both forms of flood.
Thousands of new build homes have been constructed on low-lying flood plains across Britain over the last decade, with this year's flood-related damage already suspected to have caused £1 billion-worth of damage - making 2012 the costliest flood year since 2007.