The National Association of Realtors has created a consumer website filled with great resources for buyers, sellers and homeowners.  There is a brief piece on Homeowners Associations.

A lot of communities in the Charleston area fall under the umbrella of HOAs.  At first if you are not used to them, seeing the fees that are due- monthly, quarterly or annually, can be daunting but take a moment to learn about the HOA and what it means to you as a homeowner in that community.

About 59.5 Americans (according to the Communities Association Institute) are members of HOAs.  The HOAs enforce the community’s rules.  And there’s value in the fee. A 2005 study, which appeared in the Cato Institute’s Regulation magazine, compared a group of Washington, D.C., area HOA properties with similar homes without community benefits—a total of about 12,000 homes. The HOA house values were found to be 5.4% higher. That’s $1,067 on the average U.S. home value of $197,600!
Before you purchase a property with an HOA, make sure you have read and familiarized yourself with the documents, covenants and restrictions.  If you become a homeowner in the community, make your voice heard.  Put the HOA meetings on your calendar and attend (they usually are just once or twice a year), and vote on issues.  If you have the time, consider volunteering your professional skills or even volunteer to be elected to the board.