To HOA or not to HOA
Homeowners associations were conceived to enforce standards for the maintenance of common areas within the community. However, there have been many complaints of HOA boards overstepping their authority and interfering with homeowners property rights. When you buy a property in an HOA-governed neighborhood, you can expect to hear about conflicts between homeowners and the board, some of which have escalated to threats, physical violence and lawsuits.
The situation has driven some buyers away from neighborhoods with an HOA, fearing the stress from a conflict with the board. However, experience has shown that HOAs have been effective in maintaining community standards and, thus, preserving property values. HOAs have also been credited with creative conflict resolution so that residents learn to get along with their neighbors much better.
Bottom-line: Research the community before you buy, and remember that the HOA board has limited tenure. A change in leadership typically leads to a shift in attitudes and management style.