As far as the associations and how they are managing the curb appeal...They have implementations in the HOA documents that provide for owner maintenance. This means that if the property has gone back to the bank then it is the banks responsibility to maintain the property.
As an owner who has dealt with the Crown Hill HOA, I can tell you that I have contacted them about a particular home when I noticed it was not being maintained. The HOA said they would contact the bank immediately. When they contacted the bank the result was that the bank sent over a maintenance crew to clean up the property.
I feel it is better to have an HOA who can maintain the Home Owner Association rules like this. Can you imagine if I had to contact the bank myself? Much better to have a governing board of a HOA to follow up on thing like this!
It is true, some do have various rates within the associations and not all are listed correctly in the MLS. One HOA, gated community in Redhawk has 2 association fees that need to be paid! You should also be concerned with the tax rates for the different areas. Morgan Hill, Crown Hill and Harveston usually have higher assessements than Paseo Del Sol.
The HOA does not usually keep up the lawns of the homes, they keep the common areas, such as parks, recreation areas, pools, and walk ways in pristeen condition, but the houses themselves are taken care of by the owner. As for long term value, we have been here before and just like in the late 90's, as these homes are purchased, the new owners come in and begin making them their own and the neighborhoods come back together, sometimes even better than before!
If you would like more information, please feel free to contact me or access my website. You can search the MLS with or without signing in and making an account.