One of the first hurdles of securing a property in a coop is presenting yourself in letter form to the board. NY1's Jill Urban filed the following report.
Anyone who has ever purchased a home in a coop knows reference letters are a key element to the board package. But many people who are asked to write a reference letter are often unsure about what it should say and what the format should be.
Roberta Axelrod of Time Equities is the sponsor board member for 10 boards and has seen and written her fair share of reference letters. So we recently asked her for some advice.
"The point of the business reference letter is to see that you are secure in your field or position and that you will be financially responsible. The point of personal reference is to see that you are a cooperative good neighbor and a good person," says Axelrod.
For personal reference letters she says it’s best to ask someone who knows you well and for a long time but avoid relatives. You don’t want the board to think you didn’t have anyone other than family who could vouch for you. If you know someone influential or in a position of power, that’s great - just avoid people who are controversial. If you know someone who is on a board or owns in a coop, that’s helpful too.
"Reference letter should include your relationship to the person and how long you’ve known them," Axelrod suggests. "And it should point out characteristics you have: Friendly, cooperative, considerate. But also if you have a little story to give an example to make it concrete that’s always good too."
In many cases people will ask you to write the letter yourself and they’ll sign it. She says it’s okay to write a draft and have them personalize and finalize it. She also says the letters should be just a few paragraphs long, but no more than one page. Additionally, it should never describe the subject as the buyer, owner or resident.
"You are a perspective purchaser. You are not yet the purchaser. You are not yet the owner," Axelrod says. "You can’t assume it’s all over before you’ve gone through the process."
Lastly, make sure the letter perfectly follows any specific format requests from the board. They are also looking to see that you follow directions and respect their rules and that you are willing to cooperate with the cooperative.