the best way to have some comfort is to read through the covenants and restrictions. Also you might just talk to a few people in the neighborhood and ask them about the HOA. Some people have a lot of frustration with the whole concept and others find a lot of comfort. I'd prefer not to be in a HOA neighborhood but my closest friend won't look at one without them. The primary purpose of the HOA is to protect property values. Also...while you're checking on it, find out how well the members of the HOA do at paying dues- talk to the secretary- find out if several homes are deliquent- this tells you a lto about the level of involvement of the others and the strength of the HOA. you might even ask to attend a meeting even though you're not yet an owner---worth asking!