Community associations—HOAs, condos, co-ops, and mixed-use communities—offer choices, lifestyles, amenities, services, and efficiencies that people value. An estimated 70 million Americans choose to live in 345,000 planned communities, and that number continues to grow. Many community associations offer services and amenities that most Americans can’t afford on their own—swimming pools, tennis courts, playgrounds, lakes and ponds, professional security, and even golf courses. These communities also provide some degree of protection against neighborhood degradation and deterioration—cars on cinder blocks, dilapidated homes, or yards that are not maintained. But with all of their inherent advantages, community associations occasionally face complicated issues, none more common than the challenge of balancing the best interests of the community as a whole with the preferences of individual residents. Issues often arise because of unrealistic expectations, misinformation, and misunderstanding. You can help ensure a more positive and fulfilling community experience by learning all you can about a community association before you buy a home.