(there is a question about home owners associations for condo communities here, so this is a) not a duplicate and b) fit for this website)
In most contexts where I hear about a home owners association, it is in the pejorative, after a home owner tried to do something seemingly benign to their property (ex. "I tried to install a garden gnome/fence/certain roofing type and the HOA said I couldn't, those fascists")
growing up I have seen some arbitrary decisions by home owners associations, such as neighborhood expansions only to decide something else later
and my question is, what is the HOA preventing or doing? I'm assuming the intent is something positive. Is it more strictly financial (collective property values). If they were not there enforcing their anti-garden gnome statute, do neighbors have a tendency to do ridiculous modifications to their property (my experience going around cookie cutter American neighborhoods is a trend towards no)
I've seen the wiki pages, but I'm still not sure. Aside from home owners not reading contracts putting them in the jurisdiction of a home owners association, why would one seek to live in a place that didn't have one or why would they specifically look for a place managed by one
I'm asking for pros and cons that are also best answered by what the HOA is actually doing or trying to prevent.