2905 N. Woody Dr. 

I was drawn to this house being sold through public auction by Ada County because the home is attractive and located on a nice residential street in quiet Northwest Boise. I was also very curious about the process of public auction.

I dropped in to visit during the open house. Gene Petty, from the Ada County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, told me that Ada County became owner of the home through drug forfeiture. The Boise Police Department arrested the owner for growing marijuana in a bedroom closet; selling marijuana from the house; and having an additional drug operation in a rental home. He was convicted and sent to prison. Since the house was used to grow and sell drugs in a fairly extensive operation, the county decided to go through the rare legal process of taking ownership of the home.

Several potential customers and/or their builders were touring the house when I was there. If they wanted to bid on the house, they had to go online and register, and then attend the auction at the County Courthouse the following week.

The house is small but bright, cheerful, well laid out and in surprisingly good condition. The front door opens into a vaulted living room. The walls are pristine white, the floor is laid with light brown carpet, and all the windows have mini blinds. Four bay windows accent the living room, though two of them have moisture in between the panes, possibly requiring replacement.

The dining room is open to--and just a step up from--the living room, and its two big accent windows are charming. A breakfast bar provides definition between the cooking and living spaces without completely separating the two. The counters are covered in a royal blue vinyl and trimmed in the same oak as the cabinets. All the appliances are present, and there is a nice window above the double sink.

A glass door leads to a parklike, private back yard, shaded by several mature trees and surrounded by a 6-foot-high wood fence. At the back of the yard, there's a small irrigation ditch, which only provides atmosphere since the yard is already equipped with an automatic sprinkler system. A very big deck, a small patio and a doghouse complete the yard.

Back in the house, the bedroom wing offers one average-size bedroom and a larger master. Off the master is a private bath with attractive deep-rose tile on the countertop and around the shower surround. The hall bathroom is similar, except its tile is blue with a beautiful floral accent band. A utility room with washer and dryer leads to the insulated single-car garage with opener and plenty of storage. Gray siding with blue trim and brown roof shingles cover the outside of the house. There's a generous front lawn.

I liked this property a lot and could hardly wait to see the sale price. The following week, five people bid at the auction at the Ada County Courthouse. The winning bid was $162,500. The proceeds will go to the Boise Police Department, so it's a very good deal for the Boise Police Department but alas, not so good for someone looking for a big bargain.

I talked to some people in the Ada County Treasurer's Office and visited their Web site, www.adaweb.net. They list a few properties that are up for sale due to nonpayment of taxes. It's best to call the department to be sure that what's listed is still available. Through the Treasurer's Web site, I connected to www.bid4assets.com. The government auctions off all types of property, including art, vehicles, jewelry, real estate and more. There are more sites: For instance, www.HUD.gov/home/homesforsale.cfm, is the Department of Housing and Urban Development's site for homes for sale. You can Google "house foreclosures" to come up with more places to look, but be aware that some of the sites charge for their services.

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