A good buyer’s broker will help prepare a winning board package, including pulling together compelling reference letters. Here are some reference letter “dos and don’ts”.
Most packages require six to eight letters. It's wise to provide three from professional contacts, three from personal contacts, one from a landlord or property manager and one from an employer. That will vary based on the application; always follow the directions exactly as to how many letters are required and from whom. Most buildings do not accept one letter for a couple, each applicant, regardless of marital status, may be required to submit their own references. Submit the exact number of letters, no more / no less. Read instructions carefully.
A reference letter writer must understand what boards are looking for and provide it: evidence that the applicant is fiscally careful and prudent and will be a good neighbor and an asset to the community. Specific financial information should only come from your CPA or financial advisor, not from personal references.
Presentation is important: The letter should be addressed to “Members of the Board" and signed digitally or in ink. It should be free of grammatical and spelling errors and prepared on letterhead with full contact information. Keep it short and sweet - one page or less is best.
The letter should have a personal tone, be positive and drama-free: It should describe how the writer knows the applicant and include a brief anecdote that illustrates the applicant's integrity and character. Depending upon the relationship between the reference writer and the applicant, the letter should state that the applicant is financially responsible, has a consistent work history, is philanthropic, or volunteers in the community. The letter should be more about what the applicant does for others than any personal accomplishments.
Some excellent reference letter sources are someone who owns a co-op or serves on a co-op board or an owner in the building. Avoid reference letters from family members. They are usually not permitted and will appear biased. As a rule, stay away from celebrities. You never know who board members may like or dislike.
Finally, as a best practice, have your broker review the reference letters before submission.