Well, my first inclination is to run. BUT, if you have lots of $$$ to put into possibly some major repairs, then go for it. The thing is, what you CAN'T see can hurt you. I'm happy to read that your Home Inspector is being candid w/you. If he wants a closer look and CAN'T get it, that should set off a red flag. As nice as this home may seem, the facts speak for themselves.
I wouldn't take what the Realtor or current Homeowner says about why folks backed out of past 'deals'. My bet is the Inspection sent them away, for good. Now, I do have a suggestion but you'll need a Lawyer to draw up the papers.
You'll need the Homeowner's WRITTEN permission to do certain things, like remove a certain amount of carpet, and so on, to get a more accurate Home Inspection. BUT, you'll have to pay to have it either put back OR replaced (in its entirety) if it's damaged beyond repair. IF your Home Inspector is granted the access he needs AND you're willing to accept the risk of 'upping' certain parts of the home, then have a Lawyer draw up the papers and put some $$$ in escrow. THEN, your Home Inspector should be able to give you a Written Estimate for the Cost of Repairs. (If he can't then I don't think his background is in the 'Trades' ...) Once you get your Estimates, you can then begin negotiation w/the Homeowner. Personally, I wouldn't offer to 'blindly' cut the price. In short, you want to know what's wrong.
That corner that the Inspector says is dry-rotted may be the tip of the iceberg. I can see why he wants a closer look. Be sure to have him make a 'list' of where and what he needs access to so you can present it to the Homeowner, and subsequently drafted into a legal document. A home that's 45 years old will have it's share of 'personality' but what you're describing sounds like some serious problems.
My best to ya and hope this helps.
Jay J -Moderator
PS: ASSUMING you have the time and $$$ to 'invest' in the type of plan I'm describing, I'd go for it. But before you do, make sure you're ready. Oh, be SURE you have your Real Estate Attorney read the contract that talks about the Home Inspection. You DON'T want your paperwork to commit you to a sale that's simply based on an Inspection. What you want to have written into your Contract is a clause that says the home PASSES an Home Inspection. Talk to your Inspector and your Lawyer about this. They'll know what's up.