Personal and Professional Co-op Reference Letter Tips With Samples

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Buyer dressed like a butler presenting his co-op reference letters on a platter to the co-op board

Everyone knows buying an apartment in New York City is more expensive than pretty much everywhere else. Unfortunately, not only is it more expensive, it’s also more annoying! Condo and co-op board applications in NYC can be tedious and seemingly never ending.

Usually the last outstanding item of a condo and co-op application is the professional and personal reference letters. For some boards, these are the most important item in the whole package so it’s important to take them seriously. If you’re wondering what should be included and what shouldn’t be included, you’re in the right spot!

Why Are Buyers Required To Provide Personal and Professional Reference Letters?

Because the board wants them!

After negotiating over the price and terms of a purchase, a buyer would be forgiven for thinking everything is negotiable. Unfortunately, condo and co-op applications are not. Everything in the board application is required. Applications incomplete in any way will be returned without review.

Virtually every condo and co-op board application will require both professional and personal reference letters. Anecdotally, most call for two of each.

Sometimes a bank reference letter is also requested. That’s simply a letter from the bank summarizing your accounts and can be processed quickly.

Who Should You Ask To Write Your Condo and Co-op Reference Letters?

Want a simple way to know who to ask to write your reference letters? Which of your friends and colleagues know how to write a business letter - the ones with the address, date, formal greeting, etc? That’s a good sign you should pick them!

Both professional and personal reference letters should be treated as a professional document. If you wouldn’t send it to your boss, you shouldn’t be sending it to the board either.

If your friend or colleague already owns an apartment, especially a co-op, that is a huge plus. Given they have gone through the application process, they will have a good sense for what should be said in the letter. They also know what is expected as a co-op shareholder and can vouch for you as a potential future shareholder yourself.

The longer you’ve known someone, the better. Aim for references who have known you for at least a few years and note that in the letter. Longer relationships give the board a sense of stability and continuity in your life. Hometown and college friends, even if they don’t live in NYC, are great choices. While current co-workers are best, former co-workers are also fine. Someone you worked with for three years at your last job is better than your current officemate of three months.

You should not ask family members for reference letters as most boards will not accept them.

If you’re part of a couple and you have mutual acquaintances, personal reference letters for the both of you is usually okay but that should be confirmed prior to submitting the application.

What Should Be Included In Your Condo and Co-op Reference Letters?

The best personal reference letters are favorable and unremarkable. If there were a database of every reference letter from every approved purchase in NYC history, a lot of applicants would be “respectful”, “responsible” and “great neighbors”. Nobody has ever been denied because they’re too respectful, too responsible or too great a neighbor.

Professional reference letters tend to be a little more cookie cutter because they’re, well, professional. Common themes include that you’re a good team player, reliable and positively contribute to the company’s culture.

All reference letters should be formatted correctly and, ideally, on letterhead. Most of your friends probably don’t have a personal letterhead so Yoreevo put together a few templates you can use. You can find them here, here and here.

Note how each letter has space for the reference’s contact information. That is expected by the board and sometimes they do actually reach out so make sure the info is accurate!

A great reference will tell the board when they first met the applicant, how often they see each other and say how much they value the relationship.

Details are helpful but should be unambiguously safe. Your college roommate can mention how wonderful it was to live with you and how you always kept your room spotless. However they should leave out if you were always ready to party.

A good reference letter will take up about a full page, including the header and signature. While a one paragraph letter can get the job done, it’s better to include at least two paragraphs.

What Should Not Be Included In Your Condo and Co-op Reference Letters?

A simple reference letter rule is if someone could be concerned or offended about something, leave it out. It doesn’t matter how likely that may be. To include it is a risk without a reward.

Earlier this year, Yoreevo was representing a buyer on a transaction. We were going over the board application with the listing agent and she shared one of her reference letter experiences.

Her buyer’s application was flawless and yet, to everyone’s surprise, the buyer was rejected. The agent went back and tried to figure out what the problem could have been. The only thing she could point to? One reference letter said the applicant loved cooking a particularly pungent type of cuisine.

Seems silly and trivial, right?

To you it might but if one of the board members is going to be that person’s next-door neighbor and they hate that cuisine, that’s all that matters.

Instruments and other potentially disruptive items should also be left out. Most buyer’s won’t be practicing their instrument at 11pm (if they plan to play in the apartment at all) but the board may consider that a risk they’re unwilling to take.

Your condo and co-op reference letter should avoid all negatives. If your boss writes “I wasn’t sold on Bob at first but eventually came around. He’s now a critical member of the team”, they mean well but the board may wonder why they were unsure at first.

And this may go without saying but there should not be any spelling or grammatical errors in your letters! Make sure to have a few people proofread the letter before it’s submitted. Usually a new set of eyes is all it takes to spot that last remaining error.

What Is A Landlord Reference Letter?

When it comes to your landlord, you probably know their name, where to send the check and not much else. It’s hard to imagine them writing an effusive letter about you so what exactly is a landlord reference letter?

Compared to personal and professional reference letters, a landlord reference letter is going to be extremely boring. It will simply state the facts of your tenancy and implicitly vouch for you as a proposed co-op neighbor.

If your application requires specific pieces of information, make sure to let your landlord know but otherwise, they should be familiar with the standard letter. If your landlord is organized, turnaround should also be pretty quick.

Putting It All Together - What’s An Example Of A Great Co-op Reference Letter?

We’ve laid out a lot of dos and don’ts in this post. If you’re buying and not sure about a reference letter, feel free to contact us and we at Yoreevo will let you know if we see anything concerning.

To put together everything we’ve discussed, check out the sample reference letters below to get a sense of what an all-star reference letter looks like.

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Personal Reference Letter Sample

Yoreevo LLC
259 W 4th St #19
New York, NY 10014

September 26, 2018

Main Street Owners Corp
123 Main Street
New York, NY 12345

Dear Main Street Owners Corp Board Members,

I am writing to support my friend, John Smith, in his application to purchase Unit 1A in your cooperative.

John and I met during freshman orientation at ABC University back in 2000. After surviving the myriad of icebreakers, we quickly became inseparable and our friendship took off.

We roomed together sophomore year so I can personally attest John kept the dorm immaculate and was incredibly respectful of those living around him. Our dorm was next to the main entrance to the building and I always knew when John was coming back because he was the only one to close the main door softly behind him.

I purchased a co-op apartment three years ago and last year joined my building’s board. I can unequivocally state that John will be an incredibly respectful member of your community and cannot recommend him highly enough.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out.


Robert Johnson

Professional Reference Letter Sample

Yoreevo LLC
259 W 4th St #19
New York, NY 10014

October 16, 2018

Main Street Owners Corp
123 Main Street
New York, NY 12345

Dear Main Street Owners Corp Board Members,

I cannot think of a better future neighbor in your building than my colleague, John Smith.

I have been working with John for over three years at 123 Corporation. Technically, I am John's boss but we work as partners. He requires no oversight and always completes tasks accurately, completely and on time.

John is a critical member of 123 Corporation and we are incredibly grateful for his contributions every day. The firm could not function without him.

I am happy to make myself available for any follow-ups. You can reach me at the number and email below.


Matt Smith

Landlord Reference Letter Sample

Fantastic Rentals Inc.
123 Main Street
New York, NY 12345

October 16, 2018

Re: John Smith
456 Pine Street #1
New York, NY 12345

To Whom This May Concern,

This letter is to confirm that John Smith is currently a tenant in good standing with Fantastic Rentals Inc.

He has always paid his rent of $2,500 on time each month and been a tenant since January 2016.

If you need any additional information, please feel free to reach out.


Joe Landlord
Fantastic Rentals Inc.

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