In New York’s Hudson Valley, on the edge of the Catskill Mountains, Anne and John Macpherson’s log cabin home stands today as sturdy as their bond. Built by hand more than four decades ago when John was a far younger man, it is the only place they’ve ever lived together.
But financial trouble threatened their idyllic life last year after John was diagnosed with cancer, and skyrocketing medical bills put their mortgage in danger of default. Desperate for help, the retirees emailed their mortgage lender, Wells Fargo, asking for assistance. The company answered their plea and eventually saved their home.
“I was frightened and in tears when I explained what had happened,” Anne Macpherson said. “We had worked so hard to pay everything we owed, but when I totaled up the bills that were coming, it was clear we weren’t going to be able to pay the mortgage. I was so worried we were going to lose the home we love so much.”
Her fears were soon put to rest, though, as mortgage servicers Katie Loh and Alicia Bustos led the couple steadily through each step of qualifying for a mortgage modification, ultimately saving them hundreds of dollars a month and resolving the Macphersons’ crisis.
“Without their help, I don’t know what we would have done,” said Anne Macpherson, who suffers from post-polio syndrome and fatigue. “Our fears are now in the past, and it’s an incredible burden off my shoulders.”
For Loh and Bustos, home preservation specialists who specialize in helping people keep their homes, the Macphersons’ case was a memorable one. They said they’ll never forget Anne Macpherson’s fierce determination to follow every instruction, cover every detail, and do whatever was needed to qualify for the modification. She also wrote letters of heartfelt gratitude to them and the company.
“I remember sitting at my desk fighting back tears myself as I read those letters,” said Bustos, who managed the trial period of the Macphersons’ loan modification. “The best moment is when I told her they had been approved, and I heard her crying tears of joy. That’s when I felt the real impact of what we had done. It makes you realize the difference we can make in this job.”
As the couple’s initial home preservation contact, Loh said it was gratifying to receive such appreciation and positive feedback from customers.
“You can tell when a customer has been through a lot of adversity and they are turning to you as a last hope,” she said. “You know so much has happened that is out of their control and they are doing their very best to overcome it. So there’s a great sense of satisfaction when we can be there for them as a company and work out a new financial situation to meet their needs.”
Showcasing customer service
Loh and Bustos worked together to fulfill Wells Fargo’s goals of being on the customer’s side and helping them succeed financially, especially through adversity, said Perry Hilzendeger, head of Wells Fargo Mortgage Servicing.
“This is an excellent example of the kind of responsiveness and relationship building that expresses the essential values of Wells Fargo,” he said. “It also showcases the best of our customer service culture — a central part of our effort to rebuild trust with customers, team members, and all stakeholders.”
The Macphersons said their experience certainly reinforced their positive view of Wells Fargo, and the final result gave them a second chance at life in the home and community that they love.
“Between the work that Annie did and the help from Wells Fargo, we are able to rest easy and know that I will not have to leave our home until I am good and ready,” said John Macpherson. “And that will be when they have to take me out horizontally.”
Well known in the Hudson Valley, the Macphersons are active leaders in popular Scottish heritage organizations and have promoted a number of cultural, musical, and sporting events through the years. John Macpherson, 88, taught English composition in high school and college for almost four decades. Robust and athletic, he was a mountain climber until age 75. Anne Macpherson, 74, is a writer and public relations and marketing professional who does freelance work, volunteers in the community, and takes care of John.
Bagpipe band leader Bill Munro of Schenectady, New York, collaborated with the Macphersons on several festivals earlier this decade. “John is always the most dapper dresser and dashing personality, fun to be around and a pleasure to work with,” said Munro, a retired utility manager and affordable housing developer. “Anne has a great expertise in promoting events, always drawing a good crowd, and making sure folks had a good time.”
Now, however, with her husband’s health declining, Anne Macpherson said it is more important than ever to focus on their home and each other.
“Our log cabin home deep in the woods of the Hudson Valley is a magical place that John built log by log,” she said. “He put his heart and soul into this house. It sits in the forest with a beautiful creek running through the property. It is heaven on earth. To my husband, it was the only house he would ever live in. And we are forever grateful to everyone at Wells Fargo who worked so hard to help us keep this magical place.”