Living in a neighborhood with an HOA has quite a big impact on what you can do with your own property. Homeowners Associations are common in some areas of the country, but if you have never lived in a neighborhood where there is one in effect, some of the powers of the HOA might be surprising to you.
It is always a good idea to take the time to look over the bylaws of the HOA of a neighborhood before you decide to buy a home there. You should also take the time to discreetly inquire of the neighbors about how they feel about the HOA if they are willing to share their thoughts.
One problem with HOAs in some areas is that they have the power to do something called a non-judicial foreclosure, which basically lets the HOA put your home in foreclosure to cover unpaid HOA fees.
This is an extreme measure, but some HOAs have abused it, so if the neighborhood has a lot of foreclosures, you might want to look into it.