It's VITAL that when looking at purchasing a home in a community w/an HOA that you find out if there is a BOARD of ELECTED members OR if there is an APPOINTED HOA MANAGER! There is a HUGE difference...1 is accountable to the homeOWNERS who live in the community, the other is a hired gun & has no accountability to the homeowners.
From The Management Trust website it is also imperative that you review the following documents before putting in an Offer to Purchase: the HOA covenants and restrictions papers, financial statements, meeting minutes from the previous year, and the regulations document. It is also a good idea to speak with members of the association board if possible. Knowing all of this will help determine how well the community & its financials are being operated. If possible, also get copies of any meetings of sub-committees (i.e. the architecture board who determines who gets any structural changes to their property) & meetings between board members that aren't "official".
If there is an HOA manager, make sure that they are a certified property manager & have the best interests of the COMMUNITY as their motivation & not their own personal agenda (we are dealing w/this in my neighborhood now).
Lastly, before purchasing a home in an HOA-ruled community, make sure that renters are a) NOT allowed & that all property is home-OWNER occupied or b) that there is a maximum CAP as to the % of rentals vs home-owner occupied dwellings. The more rentals in your neighborhood the lower your property value! While there are many fabulous, considerate & responsible renters out there it only takes a couple to lower life quality for all, as well as the "transient" nature of renters. If rentals are a part of your desired home's neighborhood, make sure that renters are long-term (i.e. at least a year lease)