It's true that some HOAs do a lot more than others (just as some condo associations do a lot more than others). It's also true that some get hijacked by control freaks. But, more often, they're useful or at least not much of a problem. And, really, you generally get about what you pay for. A lot of HOAs collect the money mainly to maintain the common areas. If there's a swimming pool (or a club house) that tends to be one of the larger expenses. The more things that belong to the community that require maintenance or upkeep, the higher (generally) HOA fees are. But then you do have those amenities that other communities don't.
So, in most cases HOAs aren't a problem.
Hope that helps.
There are requirements in MD that you disclose information about your HOA and provide a re-sale package. But they (HOA's) are so common it shouldn't be a hinderance to your sale. While you might not see their services on a daily basis, just having an HOA can help a community maintain a standard. For instance if your neighbors decided that purple would be a great color to paint their shutters the HOA would typically step in to get that corrected. For sure, not having an HOA and having neighbors who don't keep up their homes can decrease your property value.
Most HOA benefit the people in the neighborhood. I would say most newer neighborhoods have HOA. I would recommend getting involved with your HOA if you are having issues with there services.