Answer from: http://www.lendermark.com/homeowners_association_fee.htm
Homeowners Association Fee
When you move into a neighborhood that has a HOA (Homeowners Association) keep in mind that you will also have Homowners Association Fees to pay. These fees are generally charged monthly or annually. There are a wide variety of items that your fees may cover from lawn maintenance to snow removal to upkeep of the neighborhood. Check with your homeowners association if you would like to see where your money is going and what it is being used for exactly. Many HOAs provide a yearly budget and/or breakdown of the money it brings in and how it is dispersed.
Your HOA will have meetings that will update you on current events that are associated with the HOA, what to expect for changes such as additions such as a pool or tennis courts and most of these things you as a member will be voting on.
Having these fee's benefit you as the homeowner as well by keeping your community looking nice and well kept, which only helps with the value of your home. It is always a good idea to get a copy of the regulations of the association to be sure you can conform to the requirements of that community.
When you live in a community with a homeowners association, keep in mind that most homeowners associations have their own rules, by-laws and restrictions. They may have rules that state no sheds, no RV's or boats to be stored on property, only certain types of fences allowed, grass cannot exceed a certain height, home improvements may need to be approved by the HOA (homeowners association) board before you can start them, etc... So familiarize yourself with your communities by-laws and such or ask to see a copy of the HOA by-laws and rules before placing a bid on a home in an area with a HOA.
Keep in mind that HOA dues are not optional, and need to be in your budget.