The point of an HOA
The point of an HOA is is to maximize the market value of the neighborhood by eliminating the factors that cause low market value. In order to facilitate this the law requires adherence to state statutes and HOA bylaws and documents.
An example is inconsistent upkeep of home exteriors. The HOA takes the maintenance of the home exteriors out of the hands of the homeowner, who may not appreciate the importance of upkeep and neighborhood curb appeal. That way they can still be a slob indoors, but prospective buyers won't see that from the street when they ride through. As I drive-through various neighborhoods showing town homes and condos to buyers it becomes obvious that the subdivisions that are kept up the best and are the most uniform sell for the most.
I'm a residential real estate broker and expert witness appraiser. That means I know what makes properties sell, and for how much. And I testify in court as to real estate values. To see the study, state statutes, (and Valhalla docs and rules) go to http://pricewrightdunn.com/Valhalla.html.
The most common mistake people make when buying in an HOA
Some people make the mistake of buying in a place that looks great without checking what laws and rules they'll be subject to once they move in. The time to do that is before you even look at the interior of the home. That way if you don't think you'll like abiding by these rules and laws you can look at a different property. Finding out at the closing table or after you move in doesn't cut it. It's way too late by then. When you accept the deed to the property you've agreed all the deed restrictions (state statutes and HOA bylaws and documents).
You can check these yourself at http://pubrec3.hillsclerk.com/oncore/search.aspx?q=detail (Name = your legal subdivision name, like Valhalla. Document Type = RES,MOD [restrictions, modification]) and/or call the management company of the subdivision you're interested in. A good listing real estate agent will probably attach them to their MLS listing. But good Realtors are in the minority, so always perform your own due diligence. Buyer Beware. A good Buyer's Agent can give you general advice, but will not have the deed restrictions of sixty zillion subdivisions memorized. They might help you research, but again, perform your own due diligence.
Once you're there
It is smarter to adjust to reality than expect it to change. Reality is that the rules are set in writing in the State Statutes and your subdivision documents. None of the rules end in, "unless you think you have a good excuse". You decided to live here because it looks better than the competition at the same money. The reason it looks good is because the rules are enforced. When you closed on your house you agreed to all the rules. If you didn't check them out ahead of time that's on you. It's not someone else's job to make sure you know what you are buying. If you get caught breaking a rule your best bet is to adjust your behavior. If you want to change a rule there's a procedure you can follow to do so. Go out and get the signatures required.