There are pros and cons to living in a neighborhood with a Homeowners Association (HOA). Before purchasing a home you should be aware of the pros and cons and decide if being part of an HOA community is right for you.
An HOA is guided by a set of rules referred to as Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs). The CC&Rs are a legal document and are recorded at the courthouse for your community. The HOA has the responsibility and authority to enforce these rules, including the authority to levy fines and/or force corrective action. Many HOAs will have an Architectural Control Committee in charge of reviewing homeowners' plans for making any changes to their home or yard.
Before purchasing into an HOA neighborhood you should carefully review the CC&Rs to be sure you are comfortable with the rules you are signing up for. A good practice is to have your Realtor write a special stipulation into the purchase agreement requiring the Seller to provide a copy of the CC&Rs for your review within the first few days of the due diligence period.
Although some HOAs and CC&Rs may seem unreasonable and restrictive they are intended to protect the value of your home and your quality of life.