That seems silly to alot of people, but HOA's really do keep the property values from going down. And they keep people from doing things like keeping old junk cars in their driveway or old appliances on their porch. Or trash from accumulating around the yard.
But, isn't that what city ordinances are for? Where I live the city rules say that your grass can't be longer than X. No junk cars. Fences in good repair. Trees trimmed to be no lower than 7 feet from the sidewalk. My city also mandates that the house be at least 75% brick. As far as I am concerned the city mandates what is needed for property values, without the silliness of no flags.
My biggest problem with HOA's is that the rules can change after you move in. A friend of mine had an HOA law unofficially named after her because they painted the trim on their brick house a color other than brown. The neighbors were so aghast that they made a "all houses must be brown" rule.
I will never live under an HOA. Ever.
Did y'll ever read the story about the most expensive dog ever? I think it was in one of the Rich Dad/ Poor Dad books. The guy would wait until a condo skyscraper needed more funding to complete. Then he would go in and buy at a discount every unit of a popular model. So, if someone wanted that model, they had to buy from him. Because of these sales the builder could get more funding. The buyer would have it written into the core paperwork, i.e. unchangeable by the later HOA, that So_and_so is allowed a dog in the condo. Always, the HOA would get snobbish, make rules, give him grief, socially cut the buyer's wife. Eventually, they would sell their last condo there and start someplace else.