Woman buys childhood home, gives it back to her parents

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Jim Yagle in front of the Cutchogue house that he never thought he'd live in again.

Many people remember with fondness their childhood home and might even confess to a touch of curiosity about what it might look like now. But what if you had the opportunity to buy back that treasured memory?

When Janet Yagle discovered the Cutchogue house where she grew up was on the market back in November 2010, it was very definitely an “aha!” moment.

“A friend alerted me to it,” she said. “My parents were living in a house in Southold that was no longer the best size for their needs and I immediately thought how great it would be to buy it for them. So I reached out to Jerry Cibulski at Century 21 in Southold. I went to high school with him and knew he was in real estate. I asked him to take a look at it.”

Mr. Cibulski, who acted as buyer’s agent on behalf of Ms. Yagle, confesses the whole idea of a child buying her parents a house instead of the other way around was intriguing to him. But he adds that the concept is clearly not as unusual as he first thought as he now has a second client looking to purchase a home in Peconic for parents.

“What was truly unique about this situation, though, was that this particular child was buying her childhood home for her parents. What are the odds on that?” he asked.

The quarter-century journey from Cutchogue and back started with Ms. Yagle’s father, James, deciding to go to law school in Queens. That prompted the sale of the Cutchogue house back in 1984. After graduating from St. John’s University, Mr. Yagle and his wife moved to Florida for a while, then returned to the North Fork and spent some time living in Riverhead. Eventually, they purchased a house in Southold.

And there they might have remained but for their daughter’s determination and the expert assistance of Mr. Cibulski.

“I just had to have it,” said Ms. Yagle. “I live in the city and I love coming out to the North Fork to stay and see friends. I’ve been coming out to Southold for years. But the Cutchogue house is the one that held the fondest memories for my family. I was really excited at the prospect of getting it back.”

Ms. Yagle’s persistence paid off. The deal closed at the end of May and the Yagles moved in on July 21. “We did some work on making the bathroom handicapped-accessible for my mother and I helped out with a bit of painting and decorating,” said Ms. Yagle. “My parents are still unpacking but they’re very happy to be home.”

“Delighted” is the word Mr. Yagle uses.

“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “I should never have left in the first place. I told my daughter if I won the lottery, I would buy this house back and one month later she called and said ‘Dad, I’m buying you the house.’”

The senior Yagles have the first floor and the upstairs with its four bedrooms makes a spacious summer retreat for Ms. Yagle.

So what was it like to walk inside her childhood home after 25 years?

“Surprisingly, not that much had changed,” she said. “All the rooms were basically the same. It felt a little smaller — but then I was a child when I lived here.”

Outside the garden also looked much the same, apart from a pine tree planted by the last owners that has interfered with Ms. Yagle’s memory a little.

“But I could also still see the outline of the fence around the corral where I kept my horse,” she said

Ms. Yagle was thrilled that the previous owners had an organic garden as her father also loves organic gardening.

“The Southold house has a great backyard, but the Cutchogue house has a larger plot of land,” she added. “This is great for my dad. He’s really going to enjoy it.” Perhaps the most unanticipated part of the whole deal was the reunion with the Yagle family pool table, left with the new owners back in 1984 and, as it turned out, still in the basement.

“It doesn’t look as if it was used very much.”

But that may change.