Simply walking across wooden floors in our homes could soon be used to generate electricity, say researchers.

Scientists sandwiched two pieces of wood, one coated with silicone and the other with 'nanocristals', between electrodes to create an electric current when walked on. An A4-sized prototype could power an LED lightbulb.

Spruce generated 80 times more electricity than other wood in the research, published in the journal Matter. Senior author Dr Guido Panzarasa, from the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, said the technology is 'scalable on an industrial level'.

House prices have soared by 13 per cent since the Covid pandemic began. After a surprise 2.1 per cent leap in August, the average cost of a home is now close to £250,000.

It was the second largest monthly rise in 15 years, with prices up 11 per cent compared to August 2020, according to figures from Nationwide. Experts had predicted the red-hot property market would cool as the generous stamp duty holiday is wound down. And prices typically dip over the summer, with many buyers and sellers on holiday. But the ultra-cheap mortgages, a lack of properties and high demand from buyers looking to take advantage of remaining pandemic tax breaks saw average prices hit £248,857 in August.

Many have also been able to bring forward plans to buy homes after squirrelling away an extra £230billion in savings since the end of March 2020. 

Robert Gardner, Nationwide's chief economist, said: 'The strength [of the market] may reflect strong demand from those buying a property priced between £125,000 and £250,000 who are looking to take advantage of the stamp duty relief in place until the end of September. Lack of supply is also likely to be a key factor behind August's price increase, with estate agents reporting low numbers of properties on their books.'

Victoria Bischoff

Money Mail Editor

The dream of owning a home will become reality for thousands as ministers today set out their £8.6billion affordable homes scheme.

As many as 119,000 properties will be built in the first tranche of the Government's Affordable homes plan. Half will be sold, helping young people get their first foot on the housing ladder, while tens of thousands more will be rented out at discounted rates.

The lion's share of the funding, some £5.2billion, is being spent outside London to support Boris Johnson's pledge to 'level up' the country.

The programme was announced in the 2020 Budget and is expected to deliver up to 180,000 new properties by 2026 - costing £11.5billion and si the biggest such investment in a decade.

That Burglar Alarm May Not Be As Reliable As You Think....

You may already have a typical home alarm system installed in your home and although this can deter some potential thieves, they'll be able to spot the ones that aren't as reliable. It's important that if you're looking to invest in a home security system, that it provides all-round protection. Look out for systems that have motion sensors, can be controlled with ease through an app (great for if you're on holiday) and even those which include automatic police response, which makes it more likely your intruder will be caught.

Sticking A Note To The Door For The Postman When You're Not In

It's easily done - you make an order online without thinking twice about whether you're going to be in or not. You stick a note on the door to the postman, telling him you're not in and giving instructions as to where they should leave your parcel. But what about anyone else snooping around? They'll soon clock that nobody is in the house and, before you know it, you've been broken into. Be sure to plan ahead where possible and time your deliveries for when you're in the property, just to be on the safe side.

Check Your Deadlock Is Working

If you're not sure what your deadlock is and where it's located, it's typically the rectangular shaped lock found underneath the handle. It's important to check this is working properly because if it doesn't actually go all the way into the door frame, burglars are able to get into a property without leaving a trace. They can simply use a debit card to slide it through and open the door, so even if you think you may have locked up, it still might not be burglar proof.

Double Check What You Are Posting On Social Media

This one may seem obvious to those who have grown up with social media and know the risks involved when posting anything online. Make sur your profile is private if possible but if you're adamant on keeping it public, there's a few things you need to make sure you're not doing. Avoid posting any group holiday photos, at least until you're back home. It's also worth double checking what you've already shared online when it comes to your address and deleting anything that may point the burglar to the right place.

The lack of progress on the much-anticipated government reforms of the UK's leasehold system, is leaving thousands of homeowners in a potentially costly waiting game and in danger of losing out, according to leasehold enfranchisement specialists Cavendish Legal Group.

The Government announced long-awaited reforms to 'level up' the leasehold system at the start of the year, including scrapping ground rents and ensuring leaseholders can extend effectively forever.

However, without a timetable for implementation homeowners who would have started leasehold enfranchisement proceedings to secure their home this year, are left in limbo as they wait for reform to be implemented - while all the time the clock is ticking on their lease.

Jonathan Frankel, litigation partner at Cavendish Legal Group, said the ongoing wait for detail from the Government on its planned reform and the lack of schedule, is having an impact on the market.

He said: "The frustrating lack of progress on this issue is forcing many leaseholders into very difficult decisions and what we are seeing is two distinct groups emerging as a result. For landlords it may not be such a big issue as they are likely to be generating income from their property and can probably afford to wait it out. But there are a lot of leaseholders who desperately want to start enfranchisement proceedings to secure the freehold, or seek a lease extension, on their property and they are now in a potentially very costly waiting game. These are people who ordinarily could have started down that route but are waiting for these reforms to kick in, so they're not in the market right now. It's like an extremely high stakes round of cards where leaseholders are being left to gamble on whether they should stick or twist; either wait for the reforms to be implemented or act now. It is a desperate position to be in, particularly for leaseholders who need to sell up this year or whose leasehold has only a limited number of years left to run."

Frankel said that the Government needs to make housing a priority, especially as the country recovers from the economic shock of the pandemic and the damage that has been done to jobs and income.

He added: "Whatever leaseholders in this unenviable position decide to do, it is crucial to ensure they get the right advice from a legal team with specialist knowledge in this area. It's not a legal process that most high street solicitors will have experience in, so we would always urge people to seek out specialists for the best advice.

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